My Dad, The Spy

Subject: I've chosen my dad as the subject for this assignment for a few reasons, but mostly because I think that he is a character that many would find interesting. He started off in a poor rural family and become successful in his career with the government. His particular expertise is something that is unique and as his daughter, I am often asked questions about my dad and what he actually does (most of which I don't actually know.) 

Below is the writing that I have so far. I look forward to your comments and suggestions!

1st Draft

Lede: For as long as I can remember, our family has had this running joke that my dad is a spy. As a Russian linguist for the Government of the United States, my father is privy to a lot of information that average Americans like you and I don’t have. The accusation that he is leading a double life of James Bond-esque crime fighting is one that he will adamantly deny. However, one can’t help but note the twinkle in his eyes or the slight smile that spreads across his face as he discounts our theories. 

Body: Dad grew up in Washington state, on the “dry side,” he is quick to mention. Born in the middle of five children to poor farm folk, he grew up living on government aid and whatever food they could grow or raise themselves. Yakama was not known for its wealth of opportunities, and so my father made one of the best decisions of his life and joined the military. He never talks much about his days as a young airman though I have gleaned some details over the years. My dad went through the typical coming-of-age self-discovery that most of us go through when we have left home on our own for the first time; he experienced his first and last hangover of his life, vowing never to touch the stuff again. He smoked a pipe for a few weeks and determined that this would not become a vice for him either. I know that it was during these first years he also met my mother and got married to her shortly after.

Through the military, our family was able to live across the globe moving with a frequency that might shock most people; by the time I had finished the first grade, I had already been through no less than seven teachers. I was stroked and petted by strangers in Italy - blonde babies were rare and precious, captured a wild tarantula in California, had my first crush in Indiana and watched my Dad consume a squid tentacle on a stick from a street vendor in Japan. It wasn't actually until the military transferred us to Alabama that I started to get to know my father. Long hours of shift work translating radio interceptions had kept him as more of an occasional visitor to our regular family culture.

Gina Mallonee
Writer | Photographer | Globe-Trotter