There is a reason I chose this title for my blog. It comes from the title to Chuck Barris' memoir of the same name. In it, he discloses that while he was the producer for the Dating Game, he was also an assassin for the CIA. The Dating Game was a TV game show where pretty, young bachelorettes would ask questions of three eleigible bachelors (who were sitting behind a partition). The questions were risque and always had a double-meaning. The "winners" would go on some whirlwind, exotic trip, chaperoned by Chuck Barris himself. It was the perfect cover. The young couple would go on a romantic trip to fantastic places, and Chuck Barris would kill some commie bastard.
Now it is time to reveal the truth. I, too, was a hired killer for the CIA.
I was recruited in 1989, the year I graduated from George Washington University. I had heard they were looking for speakers of Mandarin Chinese, which I had studied, and I gave them a call. Believe it or not, the CIA is in the phone book (well, the DC phone book). The next day, I received, via FedEx, a two inch stack of papers. It was the questionnaire. They wanted to go back as far as about the third grade. This is standard operating procedure for the CIA.
The Company wants to know everything about you. They talk to your parents. To your grandparents. To your school teachers. To your aunts and uncles. To your neighbors (even from 20-years back). They don't show up and announce they're the CIA, of course. They might pose as police officers, or the FBI, or whatever else might sound plausible when they ask your high school sweetheart about you twenty years after you dumped her.
Were you a bed-wetter? You may have psychological problems. Were you a bully? You might be maladjusted. Does one of your parents have a gambling problem? If they owe too much, they might ask you to sell secrets to help them out. Were you a loner? You might have problems relating to people in social situations. They pretty much ask you a million questions about your past, not to trip you up, but to find out if you can be trusted. There are things that get you booted from the process pretty quickly. Does your father have Mafia ties? Out. Do you have a drug problem? Out. Have you ever visited a communist country? Definitely out. The Company is looking for people who are incorruptable.
Yeah, I failed this part. (Dad was an inveterate gambler and pot-smoker, who was a bookie for the mob, and hadn't paid his taxes in ten years. I pretty much failed once they discovered two of those four things.)
Then there's the psychological profile. The CIA is looking for people with a high sense of patriotism, highly motivated, with a willingness to stand on the wall between danger and the rest of society. This doesn't mean they won't take malcontents, however. They're not looking for Clark Kent here. If you cheated on a high school exam, for example, this might be couched as "risk taking." If you stole a car for a joyride, they might look favorably on this as "being resourceful." The CIA wants to know who they're dealing with, psychologically speaking. They take this part very seriously. While I couldn't pass the background check, it was the psych exam that made them very interested; I fit a certain, specific profile.
I was basically Jason Bourne, with out all the water-boarding and drugs. So while I would be unable to, say, handle state secrets at Langley (thanks, dad!), I was perfectly suited for the Special Operations Group.