19 March 2008

Operation: Peter Cottontail

My dad was a career USAF intelligence officer. He did many different jobs within that specialty, but he was mainly a HUMINT officer. He would tell us fantastic stories of his days of training when he was taught valuable things like how to cross a river without being detected and how best to quickly burn paper documents: you know, stuff we can all use. While in Vietnam he interrogated POWs; his friends got more fun assignments like training the South Vietnamese how to do dead drops and other similarly hilarious trades:

USAF Officer: OK, now where are you going to hide your note for your handler?
S.Vietnamese: I'm going to put it under that coconut.
Officer: Fine. And what if a policeman comes and asks you what you're doing? What's going to be your story?
S.V.: Oh, he wouldn't do that.
Officer: Well, pretend that he did. What will you say?
S.V.: No policeman's ever done that to me. He won't ask me.
Officer: Just because it hasn't happened before doesn't mean it won't ever, so you need an excuse. What's it gonna be?
S.V.: It wouldn't happen.

Ad nauseam.

Dad also told us about some training he went through where several groups of guys had to pretend they were operatives in a foreign country trying to evade groups like the KGB, and an altogether different group of counterintelligence guys were going to practice hunting spies by tracking them down and catching them red-handed. My dad is still immensely proud that he was the only operative in his group that was never caught. He not only covered his tracks well, establishing a solid alibi, but he also listened to his instructors who warned them to never hide any documents in their rooms. The CI guys tore their rooms apart inch by inch and every one of them were revealed--except dad, as I said. He could hide anything from anybody.

This is the man who hid our Easter eggs every year.

Easter egg hunts in our house were an event that every kid in our family, regardless of how old, not only participated in, but also looked forward to all year. As the years progressed, the hunt for these dastardly plastic candy-filled shapes only became even more challenging as dad would up the ante on where he hid the little suckers depending on your age and relative ability to match wits with him. The hunt was confined to the living room, dining room, and the hallway. If you found an egg that wasn't your assigned color, you put it back and kept going. It took us hours. As it approached bedtime, he would begin to give out the old "colder/warmer/red-hot" clues until the last egg was finally uncovered. You would be honestly shocked, as we frequently were, by learning where a plastic egg will fit. I'm still amazed he stuffed one into the tiny drawer of an antique coffee grinder. I doubted even ground coffee would fit in there, let alone an entire egg. The last few years we did the hunt (before most of us moved away) the event became especially challenging as dad progressed in his years. The old joke about being so old you could hide your own Easter eggs actually applied in my dad's case. We'd go to him for hints and instead of providing a knowing answer, he'd usually reply with, "Uh...your guess is as good as mine at this point. Did you try in that? No luck? Huh. How about over there? No? Hm. Then I guess you're SOL. Keep looking."

My dad is flying in for Easter. He will be the designated egg-hider for Peawhistle's first egg hunt at home. Considering PW is barely four and is seemingly incapable of locating anything that is not within her direct line of sight, this should be an interesting showdown. I kinda wish he'd hide eggs for the Husband and me, too, as I think it would be even more fun to do that, but I feel like an idiot asking. I don't even want candy-filled ones. I just want to find them. Do you suppose there comes an age when you can't ask the Old Spook to hide stuff like eggs so you can spend hours of your life looking for them? I hope not, because them's the good times.


Stephanie B said...

That sounds like an awesome tradition. Have your mom ask your dad, that would be perfect. Or you could write a note and stick it on his pillow... now that's not idiotic at all.

Benteti5 said...

Nothing wrong with hunting eggs as adults. Even better when Dad forgets the hiding spots. I would ask him too. Last year we hid an egg that never got found until about 5 months later when I was packing up to move. Luckily it wasn't one of the real ones:)