Tuesday, April 2, 2013

THE TIME I ALMOST MET TONY MENDEZ

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

When I was a newspaper reporter, I interviewed a lot of interesting people: the woman who had been taken from her Ukrainian village and forced into slavery by the Nazis; the woman whose childhood recovery from leukemia was deemed the third miracle that led to the sainthood of Elizabeth Ann Seton; the dog owners whose Bouvier de Flandres won more competitions than any other dog in a single year; and actor Benicio del Toro, not long before he won an Academy Award for Traffic.

Oh, boy, I wish the interview with del Toro
had been in person and not on the telephone.
Shhhh! Don't tell Elvis Aaron Schwarz.

But because of circumstances, I missed out on a couple of interviews I really wanted to do.

For example, I had a "date" with my favorite historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin, that I didn't get to keep.

And now that I've seen Argo, I'm really kicking myself over the time I almost met retired CIA operative Tony Mendez (played by Ben Affleck in the movie, which I reviewed HERE). Tony Mendez retired from the CIA quite some time ago and married another former CIA agent. The two of them, along with Tony's son, have become artists, with a studio in rural Washington County, Maryland. The county where I lived.  The county where I was a reporter. 

The Mendez family very graciously invited children from an elementary school to visit their art studio. In the county where I lived. In the county where I was a reporter.

Guess who got the assignment to cover the story?

Although I didn't know at the time that Tony Mendez had been such a big deal in the CIA, I knew he was a former agent who had written a book about his work called The Master of Disguise.

Washington County is kind of a sprawling area. I lived in the valley of the Catoctin Mountains, but the county included mountainous regions and out-of-the way spots that could be difficult to find, even on a map. No wonder Camp David is in the Catoctin Mountains. It wouldn't be easy to find. Many locals know where Camp David is, but wouldn't reveal the location to save their lives.

Before I was to go to the Mendez's studio, I studied my map. The studio had to be in a place close enough to the elementary school so that the kids could get there. I looked and looked, and absolutely nothing seemed familiar. I had never been to that part of the county.

In the end, I missed the visit to the art studio. I just plain couldn't find it.

So that's the time I almost met Tony Mendez, who helped rescue six Americans from Iran during the hostage crisis and was involved in many other high-end hush hush operations. I guess he was still so good at hiding that I couldn't succeed in my part of the hide-and-seek game.

I told my boss I was sick, and that's why I didn't get the story. Shame on me for lying, but now that I've seen the movie, I feel as if I've really been punished because I didn't get to meet Mendez.

Oh, why hadn't the GPS been invented yet?

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

14 comments:

  1. Wow, wow, wow! That would have been pretty amazing to have met him! We still haven't seen Argo yet and hopefully we can get it on Netflix sometime in the nearish future!

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    1. I think you'll like it. It's very good.

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  2. Major bummer that you got lost and couldn't meet him. That sounds like something I would do - even with a GPS!

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    1. I can get lost crossing the street. It's a miracle that I made it to as many places as I did.

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  3. Janie, sometimes we wish if we could go back in time.

    Interesting people and an interesting career.

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    1. I'd like to do some things from my past again, but for the most part, I'm glad to be where I am.

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  4. I can't even imagine how frustrating that would have been, driving around lost, knowing you were missing an assignment. And that would have been amazing to meet him!

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    1. I felt even more frustrated when I saw Argo and realized who I had missed out on meeting. Maybe we could have become friends. Maybe he would have introduced me to Ben Affleck. Maybe Ben Affleck would have left Jennifer Garner and married me. Maybe I would be a rich Hollywood wife now. Yeah. Why not me?

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  5. Don't feel bad, Tony was probably just so very good at hiding.

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    1. Maybe they disguised the art studio.

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  6. What a great story! Yes, it would have been greater had you actually been able to go, but it sounds like you've had your share of adventures, girlfriend. I'm going to have to pay more attention.

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    1. I can have adventures just getting lost in the city where I live now.

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  7. Replies
    1. My stories would be even better if I didn't get lost!

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