2009-09-23 / Opinion

I Spy. Or Not

by Alex McRae

You never know how things are going to turn out.

When I was 6 years old, I wanted to be a soldier. Mostly because my friends and I spent most of our spare time playing war.

One battle happened right after a hurricane blew past New Orleans and left the closest vacant lot littered with crab apples. They made swell bombs and grenades, and we chunked those things at each other until our arms ached.

I lost my taste for battle during an unfortunate episode where we were throwing bricks instead of fruit, and my sister nailed me in the head with a masonry mortar.

I survived the blow just fine. And the six stitches were no problem, either. What turned me temporarily pacifist was a lecture from mother that lasted longer than the audio version of War and Peace.

Not long after earning the neighborhood equivalent of the Purple Heart, I decided to become an archaeologist. And that was before Indiana Jones was invented. When I found out there was more involved than waltzing up to King Tut's tomb and saying, "Open Sesame," I turned my attention elsewhere.

My career search went dormant when puberty struck, and I struggled to tread water as a sea of hormones washed me hither and yon. It was that same flood of teen testosterone that drew me to my next career urge. That, and a book by Ian Fleming about a man named Bond. James Bond.

I was in high school when I read my first James Bond novel. It was love at first paragraph. And when the first Bond movie, Dr. No, came out, I was on it like a buzzard on road kill.

The movie was great. Especially the part when Swiss bombshell Ursula Andress waded out of the ocean wearing the skimpiest bikini I had ever seen.

Naturally, Andress fell head over heels (and straight into bed) with Bond. And all because he was a super cool, super suave, super sexy superspy.

I couldn't imagine anything better and immediately decided to become a spy.

I was too young for espionage school, so I invented my own "projects." My first assignment was going undercover to discover — for the benefit of my geeky pals — which girls at our school went "all the way."

Before the feminist movement and birth control pill created the "free love" movement, most girls guarded their virginity like the vault at Ft. Knox. Our coeds were mostly no different, but rumors abounded that few weren't so upright. I wanted to know who.

I knew from the Bond books and movies that a good spy found bad girls just by showing up in town, looking suave, ordering a martini — shaken, not stirred — and waiting for the action to begin.

Martinis and math class didn't mix, so I took the most exotic alternative and started drinking chocolate milk at recess. When people looked at me funny, I told them I was a spy, and playing bassoon in the school band was my "cover."

Weeks passed. Not a single girl looked my way, except when Gloria McNeil snickered at my mocha-colored milk mustache. I finally asked a football player for some help. Five minutes later he was back with a list of six girls. He said the football players all had the same list taped to their gym locker doors.

I gave up spying forever.

Years later I finally wound up where I was best suited. And I do love this job. But I have to admit that when I read a great spy novel or see a sexy spy movie, I can't help but recall my long-ago fling with James Bond.

When I do, though, I don't order a martini. I grab a good book and a glass of Metamucil and let the good times roll. I think James Bond would approve.

(Send your e-mail comments to: alex@newnan.com)

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