I ran into Louise, a friend I hadn’t seen in many years. While she and I caught up with each other in the supermarket’s produce aisle, I asked about her son, Jeffrey.
“Didn’t you know? Jeffrey’s in the CIA.”
Of course I didn’t know. Isn’t that supposed to be a secret? Should she really be telling me that? Is he even allowed to tell his own mother that he’s in the CIA? That seems very indiscreet.
I’ve known Louise for many years. She’s a sweetheart, but I wouldn’t tell her anything I wouldn’t want to hear on the 5 p.m. news. She’s a chatterbox. And Jeffrey, as I remember, was even worse.
Jeffrey couldn’t keep his mouth shut on a bet. He was always the life of the party, spilling the beans on everyone to everyone. If he’s in the CIA, trust me, we’re all in trouble. Why bother to send out wedding invitations when you could just tell Jeffrey the date and it’d be all over town the next day?
They wouldn’t have to torture Jeffrey or hire a beautiful female spy to pretend she was in love with him to get info out of him. All they’d have to do is buy him a nice meal and few beers and he’d spill his guts.
“Last week he was in Paris,” Louise said, “Next week he’ll be in Milan. He’s says he’s going to Spain in October.”
Note to self: Avoid Paris and Milan at all costs. If the CIA is sending Jeffrey there, you can bet something is up.
“He’s working on a top-secret deal, that if it goes through will change the lives of a lot of people.”
An assassination? A coup? A coordinated, multipronged plan to secretly change another government’s wayward foreign policy? And why is he telling all this to his Mom? If she knows, I know. How many people did she tell before I ran into her? And I will tell Sue what Louise told me and then Sue will tell her friends and on it goes. This is a huge security breech.
“Do you really think we should be talking about this in public?” I asked her. “In the middle of a grocery store? Aren’t you scared that he might be kidnapped and tortured?”
“Why would anyone torture Jeffrey?”
“To find out his secrets, to find out everything he knows.”
Louise is backing away from me. “What is the matter with you? He’s just a chef. He doesn’t know any secrets.”
“Just a chef? Oh. When you told me he was in the CIA, I thought you meant he was a spy. But he just cooks for the CIA. Still, that must be dangerous, going to all the world’s trouble spots.”
Louise is rolling her eyeballs now. “He doesn’t cook for the CIA, he’s at the CIA, the Culinary Institute of America. Jeffrey would make the worst spy in the world. Everybody knows he can’t keep a secret.
“Then again, he never will tell me what he puts in his creme brulee that makes it taste so good.”
Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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