The International Spy Museum

International Spy MuseumThis past weekend, the International Spy Museum welcomed its 5 millionth visitor to cheers and balloons. The lucky Stoner family received a free annual membership that gives them unlimited entry to the museum’s permanent exhibits, and discounts on food, gifts, and programming.

Hearing about the milestone in the life of one of DC’s myriad museums made me reflect on my own experience at the Spy Museum (how bout that pretentious sentence, huh?). In the fall of 2007, while my family was visiting me during my Washington Semester experience, Dad, Daniel and I went to the Spy Museum. Mom and Leslie chose to go to the Holocaust Museum. I think it’s clear whose choice was more awesome.

It was really fun! They had an exhibit on spying throughout history, and I really enjoyed looking at the actual gadgets and reading about the techniques that spies have used in the past. We also signed up for an interactive experience, in which we played the roles of spies trying to stop someone from doing something or other. I can’t remember the actual mission, but I know that at the end there was running up some stairs, the sound of a helicopter taking off, and then a fake bar where our leader pretend offered us a celebratory drink.

My family and I took our roles as spies very seriously. We had already tested our spying skills in the previous exhibit, and this was our chance to put them to use and prove how awesome we were. At the beginning, our guide instructed us to make up a name and a back story, and to remember it, because it was going to be important (it turned out not to be :(). She then came down the line and asked each of us our names. I quickly made up some dumb name, and Dad came up with a good one. Then she got to Daniel, who was taking it even more seriously than the rest of us. She asked, “What’s your name?” Daniel thought for a moment, obviously considering the best name to give. What nationality should his surname suggest? Should it be old-fashioned, or more modern? Undeniably male, or more gender-neutral? What type of mission were we going on, and what name would make his back story more believable rather than undermining it?

Then, he decided. The perfect name: “Kool-Aid Boy.”

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