Paging Mr. Whitehouse

The conclusion of “Sometimes a cockeyed notion”



When I left off, I had scored big on the CIA exam which was disturbing.  At the time, we were a few Russian submarines closer to learning Cyrillic.  My fellow exam takers were the best we could hope for to spy on our enemies and everyone else.  And, I was the best of them. I gave one-word answers to essay questions!  I decided it was probably the Peruvian connection.  Which meant that Peru was in the  running for something.  That’s when I decided to go to the interview and not be plucked from my yard and tossed unconscious into the back of a cargo plane headed for the Amazon.  Where I would hook up with the

Navy Seals

Navy Seals

out-going operative who worked with a tribe of headhunters for the past 18 years and who had never seen a white woman before (the headhunters, not the operative).  I imagined the headhunters weighed down with AK47’s  and tiny, shriveled human heads, because  either our operative was a double agent or he just got a great deal on Russian weapons and shrunken heads.  Of course, once the questionable operative left,  the headhunters would strip off their headhunting paraphernalia and there, standing before me would be undercover Navy Seals– every one of them single…

Mr. Whitehouse

Mr. Whitehouse

The first mind-blowing letter advised me that another letter would be sent with instructions for the interview.   Again, I forgot all about the CIA until the second letter arrived, from the interviewer himself, which stated that the interview was scheduled for a certain date and time and it gave some instructions.  I was to attend the interview at the Marriott and was given its location.  I was to go into the Lobby and use a house phone and request the interviewer paged.  I would wait to hear the paging, then when finished, call again on the house phone but this time ask to be connected to the interviewer’s room.  Once connected he would tell me which room he was in.  The letter firmly stated that no one was to know anything.  To tell no one of the interview or where I was going.  The letter was signed, “Mr. Whitehouse”.  I freaked.  I thought about the cargo plane and the headhunters.  Once I was traumatized enough,  I had to laugh.  I mean, “Mr. Whitehouse’?  Are they not able to read a phone book, run a finger down a page with eyes closed and randomly select a name? Either this was the same guy at that anthropology conference a few decades earlier or the CIA didn’t have a phone book.  I called everyone I knew of any political importance in the Albuquerque area and advised them that if I did not call them after 2 hours, to wake up the local constabulary and find me.

Mr. Whitehouse

Mr. Whitehouse

There are ways to tell who your real friends are and who are friends when it’s convenient.  I forgot to call everyone after 2 hours and only one person contacted me,  all flustered with the FBI on speed dial.  I didn’t even know her that well.  I did tell her everything, every detail I could remember about the interview and the interviewer.  Just in case, you know, I disappear one day she could carry on the good fight.  Yes, I received another letter later, which triggered my immediate recovery from my recurring  “CIA amnesia” stating I had passed the interview with red, white and blue colors.  The interview was ludicrous.   He just wanted to see me.  He hardly paid attention which indicated to me that he was paying a lot of attention to me.    He perked up when I mentioned I had  lived and worked in Peru, and was fluent in Spanish. I confessed to him that I lived with communists in Peru  and he had a strange response.  He wanted to know if they were card-carrying communists; did I see their cards?  I answered “No” and then said not to worry about it.  They probably were not communists.  That’s when I knew he  already knew all about me and about the communists who were very real.    And that phrase, “card-carrying” is just that, a phrase. Communists did not carry cards even during the McCarthy error era  McCarthy would not have needed to humiliate and obfuscate suspected communists, if all he had to do was say, “just hand your cards to the officer at the door, please.”

I had some questions for him of course.  He said he couldn’t divulge certain things so pretty much left me hanging.  He did tell me that I would be paid “very well”.  I had to throw out numbers to determine what the monetary value of “very well” was.  It was a “good” amount.  I kept stressing that I did not want to be an operative or to move to a country actively at war.  And please, no embassy parties.  He did tell me that an analyst becomes an expert in a person, or place or activity. And, they would want me to get my PhD.  Great, more studying.  I went home feeling less than satisfied about the whole venture.  Then, my boyfriend  asked me if he was going to D.C. with me if I took the job.  We lived together.  I supported him most of the time.  I was wondering when he would ask that question.  Took him awhile.  I answered noncommittally, “let’s see what happens.”

I didn’t take him with me.


When I was a kid I wanted to be an "atomic" scientist. Not anything my mother expected of me. Well, I became a scientist, just not an atomic one.

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