Memories are brittle. Sometimes when I try to establish the place and time when something significant happened to me, I learn that things were not necessarily as they seemed. The perception of the moment can be filtered by so many factors. Time can bring clarity or muddy the waters. It doesn’t matter if we are talking yesterday or fifty years ago. What we see, hear, and feel in any given moment is adjustable. The mind can play tricks. Even the most perceptive people can’t be trusted to give accurate details of an event.
After watching an old commercial for the Secret Sam Attaché Case, I began to wonder if my parents bought me this James Bond rip off instead of a real James Bond Attaché Case back in 1965. After a little research, I’m positive that I owned an actual James Bond Attaché Case. I think that I also wanted a Secret Sam case, because it came with a periscope and a camera, but my father wasn’t going to cough up the extra money necessary for film and processing, so I was dumb out of luck.
Ownership of a real James Bond Attaché Case had its perks. I was the only kid on the block with a license to kill. I could fire rubber bullets at my enemies or stab them with my rubber knife. If someone tried to open my case without my permission, a cap would explode to notifying me of the security breach. I had my papers and a device to decode secret messages. All I needed was a Bond girl and a bottle of Dom Pérignon champagne.
I was in like Derek Flint, and I could be as dashing and adventurous as Matt Helm with Stella Stevens or Ann-Margaret as my imaginary co-stars. I was a man from U.N.C.L.E. ready to take on impossible missions. If only I could get smart. Or better yet, Agent 99. Barbara Feldon who played Agent 99 seemed to be a nicer person than any of the Bond girls based on my limited knowledge of female spies.
Espionage was a good excuse to poke around, lurk in closets, hide under beds, look for clues and make bombs out of chemicals found under the bathroom and kitchen sink. I figured out a pretty dangerous concoction, my own version of an atomic bomb. Even at nine I knew enough to wear gloves and goggles. Where did I learn this stuff?
I guess I got the idea from my chemistry kit. It came with a book of experiments and a catalog where you could buy additional chemicals. I couldn’t afford to buy most of things listed, so I started reading the ingredients on cleaning supplies and realized that the house was filled with toxic substances that could be turned into high explosives. Making smoke and explosions was an important part of my childhood that I revisit every Fourth of July wherever fireworks are legal.