His Father the Spy
Meeting my boyfriend's father, an ex-CIA operative, for the first time.
Illustration by Audrey Weber
My boyfriend Richard can't help but sound a little shifty when asked where he’s from. His answer is typically, “I went to high school in New Mexico.” The fuller explanation is much more complicated. He was born in Tokyo and lived all over the world, which imbued him with a certain restlessness I’m not sure he'll ever shake.
To relative strangers, he explains himself as a “diplo-brat,” and, when pushed, says his dad works for the State Department. It took me a while to understand the secret code, that when “State Department” is not further qualified, it means intelligence. Spies.
When I first met his dad, I was too preoccupied with meeting my new boyfriend’s parents to be intimidated by his career, first as a CIA operative and then as Director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence for the Department of Energy. It was just before Richard and I graduated from college. We met at a wine bar in New Orleans, packed with soon-to-be alumni and their parents. The lon…