I’ve been running through my contacts list, trying to figure out which of my friends and relatives are spies for Russia. I’m coming up empty. But maybe I’m not thinking about this in the right way. It’s possible that, despite evidence to the contrary, I still expect spies to have gold teeth, nice suits and stand-offish demeanor, when, actually, they’re boring middle-class parents just like me.
Who knew spies (Russian spies!) could be raising teens, carrying mortgages, sending Christmas cards and working in real estate? I know people like that! (Hang on while I go through guest lists for the last five years of Memorial Day barbecues.)
I know I’m supposed to be incensed by the members of a Russian spy ring, but mainly I’m charmed. I feel a kind of kinship! They wanted good schools for their kids, homes in nice neighborhoods, pretty gardens. They were politically outspoken.
Of the 11 arrested, six were couples leading a typical American life — “Suburbia Personified” the headline read. They lived so much like typical American families that they weren’t weren’t even all that great at their super-secret assignments, apparently. My guess is that they were too distracted by yet another end of school party. How’s a turncoat supposed to uncover nuclear secrets when every damn Saturday is spent traveling to soccer tourneys?
Tip to Russia’s top spy agency: your men and women on the ground couldn’t possibly get the job done. American family life, suburban or otherwise, is demanding. It’s a full-time job. There’s no room in cocktail party banter for discussing state’s secrets when the more pressing issue is whether the neighborhood Reggio-Emilio center is really worth the tuition.