I used to date this girl who was absolutely convinced I was a spy. This came at a particularly stressful time in my life because I had to travel a lot for work, which, coincidentally enough, was one of the reasons she thought I was a spy. I remember this came about when, before an upcoming trip to Denmark, The Girl asked where I was going.
“To Denmark,” I said.
“Why are you going there?” she asked.
“For work,” I’d always say, but this answer never seemed to suffice.
“What is it you do again?” she’d ask, elongating her Staten Island accent.
I must have told her what my job was a hundred times but she’d never stop asking what I do. “I have to go talk to a windmill manufacturer,” I’d say.
“You what?” she’d always ask.
“I help import Windmills,” I’d say. “You know this.”
She went on pretending she didn’t know this, and then the next week I’d go to Denmark. When I get back she’d ask, “Where were you?”
“Denmark,” I’d say. “You know this.”
I realize being the middleman for a Windmill manufacturer isn’t the sexiest job in the world, but, honestly, she would never stop asking what I do. We dated for six months and weekly she’d ask something like, “Why are you going to Zurich?”
“To meet with the windmill guy,” I’d say.
Another reason The Girl thought I was a spy was because I had two phones.
“Why do you have two phones?” she’d say.
“One’s my work phone and one’s my personal phone,” I would tell her.
I didn’t understand how having two phones would make her think I was a spy. I remember thinking, wouldn’t spies have some sort of secret red rotary phone concealed inside of a globe, or maybe a sophisticated chip implanted in their head? What was so odd about having two phones? But The Girl would always say something like, “I bet one of those phones is a spy phone.”
“What’s a spy phone?” I’d ask.
She’d say, “One of those phones, you know?”
“No,” I’d say. “I mean, what does a spy phone do?”
“It’s the phone where they call and tell you about your missions and stuff,” she’d say.
I’d always just ask, “Missions?”
“Yeah, like when you have to go and like spy on people and stuff,” she’d say. “Like China and stuff.”
She said “stuff” a lot. This seemed to go on for forever. The Girl was all right and all, but, seriously, she would never stop asking if I was a spy.
I also owned a lot of suits. There’s nothing strikingly abnormal about that, though I suppose it didn’t help that they all looked very similar. All of them had black slacks, a black jacket with pointed lapels, white shirt, and a silk black tie. It always looked like I was on my way to some wedding. “Again,” I’d tell her, “I bought the suits because I needed to go be the middleman to a Windmill manufacturer.”
“In Denmark?” she’d ask.
“No,” I’d say. “This time I have to go to Oslo.”
“Oslo?” she’d say, all startled. “You are a spy?”
I remember thinking, if I was a spy, why would I be going to places like Denmark, Zurich, and Oslo? Wouldn’t I be going some place exotic, like Prague or Moscow or something?
“You’re going to Moscow?” she’d ask when I’d raise this point, as if she didn’t even listen to my question. “Only spies go to Moscow; and only spies where suits like that. Honestly, who owns that many suits?””
Stuff like this went on for a while.
I also carried around a lot of cash. It wasn’t weird or anything, I just liked to have cash and got anxious whenever I had to use a credit card, like a waitress might come to my table and tell me my Amex has been declined. It’s tough to think of something more humiliating—at least for me. So I paid for most things in cash. Another thing about the cash, though—and I admit this is weird—is that I often carried it around in a large briefcase. It didn’t matter where I went, whether it was to the coffee shop or the post office—on one occasion I even took it to the opera—my briefcase full of money was usually in tow. I just liked how it looked, I guess. Is that such a crime? The Girl didn’t harass her friends for carrying around their purses, so why should she harass me for carrying around a briefcase? If anything, I should be commended for such a bold fashion accessory. But whenever we went out and somebody brought it up, The Girl would always say the same thing, “He carries that briefcase around because he’s a spy.”
I suppose the most incriminating piece of evidence to support the statement that I was a spy was that The Girl found a shoebox full of passports—all with my picture, just different names—in a crawlspace behind my dresser. This, justifiably, was most peculiar to her. It’s tough enough getting one passport from the U.S. government, let alone thirteen of them. I told her I’d gotten them at a novelty shop in Nisswa, Minnesota, but The Girl picked up her phone, called her friend, and said, “Marsha, I just found a shoebox full of passports behind his dresser! I told you he was a spy!” Now Marsha was involved.
At this point, I knew it was time to let The Girl go; my life was turning into one nagging migraine. Of course, I told her the reasons we were suddenly parting ways was because of my hectic travel schedule and the tiring hours at the windmill factory, but I doubt she bought it. I suppose that’s just as well, and truly hope there were no hard feelings.
Well, I should run, there’s a windmill convention in Damascus this weekend and I really oughtn’t miss it.