The making of a super agent
LONDON — MY MISSION: Infiltrate the new 40th anniversary James Bond exhibit at London's Science Museum undetected.
It's 9:54, and I arrive early. But I'm not alone. I slip on my dark glasses and survey the jostling crowd of three-foot-tall people crowding the museum door.
Most seem to be dressed in typical English school uniforms, but I'm no fool. Scaramanga's nasty little henchman Nick Nack couldn't have been much more than three feet tall himself!
Suddenly, the doors open and I'm carried along as the little people surge into the museum's cavernous lobby.
So far, so good.
I sense someone watching me. I quickly scan the room for escape routes. But the attractive redhead beckoning seems innocent enough.
Fine, I'll play her little game.
I warily slide in line and step forward to pay my admission to the redhead - a dead ringer for Jill St. John.
Her sultry green eyes lock on me like lasers. Perhaps it's because I'm still wearing the shades, and I'm having trouble deciphering this strange pile of English coins in my hand.
She hands me a ticket. "You can go in at 10:30," she purrs.
It won't be long now. To kill some time, I stroll over to the museum's Deep Blue Cafe for a cup of tea - shaken, not - well, you know.
I check my watch. It's mission time. I negotiate a flight of stairs, a 90-degree turn.
I can smell the danger.
Hiking up the collar of my Burberry trenchcoat, I step through the portal into 007's world: M's headquarters, Q's gadget workshop, a gallery of Bond Babes, cool cars, and a rogue's gallery of villains.
Immediately I'm intercepted by a mysterious man who hands me a piece of black plastic.
It's a secret-agent card, the key to the exhibition's database. A lucky break! Now all I have to do is answer a few questions, and the title of super agent is mine.
I swipe my card at the first MI6 station, which features questions about Bond movies. Storyboards and production photos decorate the walls, chronicling the creation of those memorable 007 designs.
My first question pops up: "What singing star actually appeared in the opening titles?"
I hesitate. An impatient 8-year-old waiting for his turn whispers, "Sheena Easton."
"What could he know?" I think as I select the incomparable Shirley Bassey.
"Incorrect" flashes on the screen - over and over. Just once would be fine, thank you.
Now I'm in M's office - the familiar leather chair, paneled wood walls, the dark cherry desk. And there's M himself on a TV monitor, briefing me on the mission (along with a nanny pushing a stroller. Note to self: Keep an eye on her.)
I receive my orders, and I'm off to Q's workshop, where the amazing fold-up plane from "Octopussy" fills the middle of the room.
Glass cases display Bond's famous Walther PPK, his hairbrush code transmitter, and a gold Rolex with sawblades that saved his neck in "Live and Let Die." Exploding pens, tape-recording cameras, and dozens of other gizmos fill out the workshop.
I swipe my card and punch in my answer to an easy question about Bond's silver Aston Martin DB5.
Wait a minute.... Are my answers truly wrong, or is this a dastardly SPECTRE scheme of disinformation? No time to ponder - I'm urgently needed in the Villain's Lair!
They're all here, shrouded in shadow. A kaleidoscopic, '60s-style light show reveals the deadly switchblade shoe of Rosa Klebb - maid by day, assassin by night.
The swirling red light sweeps across the deadly, glistening steel teeth of Jaws, the giant who chomped his way through two Bond films, as well as a car.
Suddenly I'm forced to duck. Like a frisbee of death, Oddjob's deadly bowler hat slices through the air.
The insistent strains of John Barry's theme music from "The Spy Who Loved Me" beckon from down the hall. Sounds like it's time to meet the Bond Women.
Honey Ryder, Solitaire, Tiffany Case, and the always-elegant Miss Moneypenny greet me all at once as I turn the corner into their realm.
Oscar-winner Halle Berry will be the next beauty to test Pierce Brosnan's ability to keep it cool.
I'd love to stay here all day, but I hear someone in trouble.
"Help me!" he cries, "somebody help me!" It's a small boy, and he's hanging by his finger tips from the Golden Gate bridge.
Why is that nanny just standing there laughing? Then I spot the green screen: It's all staged. A diabolical diversion - and I nearly fell for it!
In the distance, I hear a countdown. Five ... four ... three ... I dash past the storyboards of Bond stunts and models of some mighty evil lairs, and duck into a black-curtained room.
Holy SMERSH! It's the nuclear reactor. To save the world, all I've got to do is ... push ... the ... red ... button. Kablooey! Before my very eyes, one more evil plan for world domination is toast, 007-style.
As I exit the control room, I spot one last MI6 data station, surrounded by four decades of Bond movie posters in many languages. I picture my tuxedoed visage peering out from one of them.
One last swipe with the card before I get my official agent's badge.
The word "Rejected" flashes repeatedly on the computer screen. Does it really have to make that beeping sound?
No matter, my mission here is finished. I've managed to answer every question wrong - no one will ever suspect me now.
I slide out the exit, hurry past Goldfinger's famous gold Rolls, and make for the gift shop to complete my true mission: refrigerator magnets for my kids and an 007 action figure for me.
Who am I? The name is Kehe ... John Kehe.
• 'Bond, James Bond''runs at the London Science Museum until April 27, 2003. Reservations are highly recommended.