As a kid I went through a serious James Bond phase, devouring Ian Fleming's books and seeing every movie I could get on VHS. I’m not sure I got through all of them, but I gave it a solid effort. I loved the salacious romance subplots (even though I barely understood them) and the increasingly gadget-filled briefings with Q. I imagined myself going on missions, transformed for undercover operations by wigs, couture, and a sudden, inexplicable fluency in Polish.
So, when given the chance to go to SpyScape, NYC’s new-ish spy museum, obviously I choose to accept the mission. Fuck, yeah.
I go with a small group of spy nerds to Spyscape’s adults only Friday night offering. One or two of us may have had a few cocktails prior. (Read: me). So we are pumped and ready for our briefing.
After stashing our stuff in the locker room, we're escorted into a huge elevator with ominous spy techno music and 360º video screens. The elevator then opens up into the museum space where we can either start our experience, or go to the bar.
I mean, it’s called Missions and Martinis.
Not pictured: The boys.
Appropriately primed, we head into the museum. I’m not too cool for school to say- it's awesome.
Our wristbands activate a series of tests and experiences that assess our spy potential. At the end, we’ll be given a Spy Profile which reveals our ideal spy role.
I joke that I’ll likely be arranging travel or approving expense reports, but I'm secretly hoping to be an Operative, or at least do something cool like Cryptography or Counterintelligence.
I’m so into this. I feel like a little kid at an amusement park, running from kiosk to kiosk answering questions and decrypting codes. There's a deception challenge: is she telling the truth? Or is she a damned, dirty liar?
Those hours spent binge watching Lie to Me was not time wasted.
I nail it.
I geek out when I’m given a headset and tasked with spotting targets in the surveillance challenge.
I tank on the codebreaking game. I’m either too tipsy or just too damn fast for the computer to keep up with me. No way to be sure.
The crowd favorite of the night is the Special Ops challenge. I enter a narrow room with lighted buttons covering the walls. I have about 2 minutes to press as many buttons as possible without tripping the “lasers” shooting out from all angles. There aren't many people there, so we each go through it 3 or 4 times trying to improve our times.
How'd I do? Let’s just say, I’m better at cryptography than navigating lasers.
Once all the challenges are complete, I head over to the”Debrief Area” to get my Spy Profile. Based on my performance, my top three attributes are revealed:
Empathetic: “Your high emotional intelligence helps you understand people and social situations.” (Check)
Inquisitive: "You are very interested in learning new things.” (Check)
Composed: “You show nerves of steel when faced with stressful situations.” (Debatable, but I’ll take it.)
The Result - Agent Handler: A manager of agents who provides secret intelligence or operational oversight.
WTF? Even in my fantasy spy life, I’m middle management? It's a bit of a letdown. Several of us end up with the same profile, so we drown our spy sorrows back at the bar.
When I get home, I access my detailed report and read about what an Agent Handler actually does: “Protect their agent at all costs. The safety of the handler comes second.”
That’s pretty badass.
The breakdown of my performance against the 10 key attributes is fascinating. I score a 2 on conscientiousness, but a 9 on interpersonal skills. (As in: Colleen is GREAT at parties, if she ever manages to show up.) I score high on willingness to take risks both “hot” and “cold," but in terms of agility, “physical exertion is not [my] forte.”
RUDE. But, valid.
So, I guess SpyScape knows me pretty well, after all. I can still dream of channeling Sydney Bristow, but inside I guess I’ll always be a BOSS.