The conversation went a little like this:
The scene: waiting for the elevator at work. I’m still early-morning, bleary-eyed, desperately clutching my Starbucks coffee. A French-femme-fatale-looking woman approached.
French Femme Fatale: With body language suggesting stealth, nodded towards my coffee and asked, “What flavor?” Her tone conveyed conspiracy.
Amy: Still waking up, still trying to remember English, suddenly can’t remember the coffee I ordered 15 minutes ago. I stammered, “It’s ah … it’s ah … coffee … it’s ah … coffee-fla-vored … it’s … no. Not fla-vor. Yeah. No flavor. Milk. Latte-milk. Flavor. Coffee. Yeah. Just a latte. Plain latte.”
French Femme Fatale: Gave a slow, sage nod. Lowered her eyes to slits. Studied me intently. Then, turned her head abruptly, and faced the elevator. Conversation over.
After the silent elevator ride to the office, I settled into my dull gray cube and realized: There’s only one explanation. French Femme Fatale was a spy. Mistook me for another spy. Uttered the secret phrase to test whether I could be trusted with the briefcase of secrets, which I gloriously botched the answer to. If only I'd had the presence of mind and foresight to give an answer, like what the accidental heroes do in the best of spy novellas. Could it have really been so hard, to, you know, just blurt out, “Vanilla”?
But, it was that hard. Thus thwarting my shoe-in to a career change of international mystery. Possibly with decent health care benefits.
I felt terrible.
It’s just as well. Based on my sluggish responses, I wouldn’t have lasted an hour under enemy interrogation. Which is what happens to all accidental spies in the best spy novellas.
And you know that that would have done to my health insurance deductible.