Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Inner Bond Girl

I can't say enough wonderful things about the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. Where else can you get a pen that looks like lipstick, a cheeky babydoll t-shirt with an invitation to Deny Everything and sunglasses with a spy camera attached? Aside from the ultra-decked-out gift shop, and barring a tour of the main museum due to time constraints, I took part in quite possibly the coolest tourist-y thing I've ever done: Operation Spy, a one hour simulated mission in which I became a U.S. Intelligence Operative in the fictitious country of Khandar. Became may not be the right word. Faked, maybe? Not for lack of realism, for the interactive experience was developed by current and former agents and lifted from portions of actual intelligence files, but let's just say I didn't miss my calling in life. Thus, I give you another Vortex 10:

Top Ten Reasons Channeling My Inner Bond Girl is Futile

1. Smart aleck cracks and flip flops do not a stealth operative make.

2. The only heat I packed on the mission was a serious underarm challenge to my Degree, Ultra Clear in the close confines of a subterranean elevator. Relax, people. Clean Powder scent prevailed.

3. The learning threshold for mastering camera surveillence would have been considerably smaller had I been tracking, say, Keith Urban, for a fangirl hotel ambush, instead of a guy who looked like my first manager at a KFC when I was fifteen.

4. Aboard the covert, getaway delivery van, my stomach revisited its 10,000 foot turbulent descent in a packed DC-10 over Washington D.C. Special forces do not carry white paper bags.

5. Simulated chopper blades really do a number on long hair.

6. My urge to don the hands-free/drive-through microphone of our "tour operations officer" surfaced, not out of a desire to intensify my experience, but to channel my inner rock star.

7. The Spy Museum's version of Frohike railroaded my concentration toward unrequited Mulder fantasies. At that point, the tech officers could have whistled Zippity-Do-Da out of their you-know-whats for all I focused on that task.

8. The red and green wavy lines on the voice descrambler proved a far prettier pattern than the required merge of the two to decipher the intercepted audio signal.

9. The only lie detector question I felt compelled to ask was, "Is that a fake accent?"

10. Calibrating a do-hickey to the precise number-which could have been psi or Oprah's weight for all I understood it to be-to disengage security cameras makes no difference if you alert the entirety of the compound to your presence by stomping on a loose manhole cover.

So, 007 I am not, at least not anywhere but in the pages of my stories. But for one hour, I saved the world. How many times in life do we get to claim that?

What and where is the coolest tourist-y thing you've ever done?


Charles Gramlich said...

I like to think of myself as 00 Buck. Although that's a complete fantasy, of course. (if you don't know much about shotguns that probably won't make any sense to you.)

Sounds like an interesting place, though.

Robin said...

Oh my gosh - I so have to check out that museum. What fun. I love, love, love your list! I've never done anything half as cool.

Jen FitzGerald said...

Oh, L.A., how cool and fun. I laughed my way through your whole list, and completely empathized with the Mulder fantasy thing.

I think the coolest tourist-y thing I've done is visit London, staying in a dinky room about the size of my bathroom, with a double-size and a single size cot with less than a foot separating them. No private bath--the privvy was down the hall.


Barbara Martin said...

The museum sounds like a lot of fun. I loved #4 and #10, the latter reminding me of something I did at the immigration office in Boston that attracted all kinds of the wrong attention. I can see acquiring plot points at the museum too. Did you?

Sue L said...

Sounds like FUN!!

the walking man said...

InkyLuv needs to return to Langley for more training from the special sciences section.

K.M. Saint James said...

Too fun, sorry to have missed out. Are there pics of this experience, or am I using my imagination? Pics might be better!

Cool tourist thing was last summer when the fam and I stopped at the Texas State Cemetery. Didn't know we had one? Well, yep, partner we do. Loads of really famous Texans planted there. Oops, maybe not the politically correct word. The cemetery is shaded and easy to manuever from the inside -- I'd suggest parking on the outside and just strolling the grounds. Water falls and glorious Texas vegetation that really does survive our Texas summers. There's even a section dedicated to Texas soliders -- tear-jerker, but wonderful.

Marilyn Brant said...

I *really* want to see this place sometime and wish I'd managed to fit it in during the trip. Thanks for the enticing recap!

Vesper said...

What a cool museum! :-) I loved your Vortex 10 (smiled my way down the list - and couldn't agree more with # 7)
:-) :-) :-)

L.A. Mitchell said...

@Charles - After that photo of you, I see the shotgun thing. Wouldn't want to run into you in that duster in a dark alley.

@Robin - Before that, my coolest tourist thing was Carhenge. It's only up from there. Really.

@Jen - Sounds amazing. I can think of many character situations that would pop up with a privy down the hall.

@Barbara - okay, now you have to tell the story. What happened at the immigration office? Plot points-absolutely!

@Sue - It was fun. Only an hour, but seemed like longer.

@walkingman - Inkyluv has been reduced to a desk job for all her failures ;)

@Sandra - no pics. They stressed it countless times. I suppose they want to keep the mission a secret (oops :O) and don't want anyone stealing their thunder.

The cemetery sounds amazing. I can see how that would be memorable. I went to a Civil War-era cemetery on the Mississippi coast once. Something with that much history was very moving.

@Marilyn - next time national is in D.C. and you're a keynote speaker, we'll go again. ;)

@Vesper - Wow, two kindred spirits for #7. Who knew? I thought it was just me.

laughingwolf said...

lol... may i intro you to my comedienne friend, suzy soro? [my sidebar]...y'd make a great team! ;)

never had a cool vacation, but i sweated a lot climbing the statue of liberty, one august... lady liberty was not impressed when my old spice failed!

charles, that size buck[shot] would kill an elephant!

Stewart Sternberg said...

Okay, the idea of a spy museum is too cool. It means that I'm going to have to travel to D.C. for some protest or other and try and make that part of the agenda. Or maybe I can just be a tourist for a change.