The following was originally posted on September 3, 2009. When I visited the US state archives last fall, one of the things that made my days a little brighter was when I found unintentionally comical documents, often made funnier from the fact that they were misfiled. Below is a document that clearly was not supposed to linger among the Middle East documents...
Classification: SECRET [blogger’s note: don’t worry – it’s been declassified. They don’t let me see the juicy stuff]
To: SECRETARY OF STATE
[blogger’s note: What I really like about the telegrams are the CAPITAL LETTERS. Everything they say sounds very IMPORTANT. I can’t help but picture the Clark Gable-like AMBASSADOR in FRANKFURT shouting out to his PRETTY SECRETARY the words she speedily would TYPE before a PIMPLY DELIVERY BOY took the message to the TELEGRAPHIST. The AMBASSADOR would then try to figure out what UNDERWEAR his SECRETARY was or wasn’t wearing that day, while she secretly would feel pretty BUMMED that she probably would have to SLEEP WITH HIM again in order to get that PROMOTION. I am aware that I might be over-analyzing due to the CAPITAL LETTERS…]
ACTION DEPARTMENT 48 [blogger’s note: here follows a lot of technical jibberish on which stations and departments should and should not receive a copy; what the telegram is referring to (if anything) etc. For your convenience, I will skip this – also it's awfully boring to type]
BRWKAKZXWAZK. [name altered] VOLOUNTEERED PRELIMINARY THE FOLLOWING:
IN 1961 RETURNING FROM OFFICIAL TRIP FROM EVIL COMMUNIST STATE [name altered] CAUGHT SMUGGLING TO SLIGHTLY LESS EVIL COMMUNIST STATE [name altered] A PACKAGE OF FALSE TEETH [no alterations made. Seriously!] (ABOUT 2000) [still no alterations – and you ask why I tend to laugh out loud in the researcher room?] AS FAVOUR TO COLLEAGUE. [Blogger’s note: now, here I smell something burning in the pineapple; fish in the suitcase; fudge in the bathwater – who would smuggle false teeth for a colleague? And what did this colleague need 2000 teeth for? Last I checked a grown human being only had 32 permanent teeth, though I do acknowledge that evolution may have come a long way since the 1960s. People may have needed more teeth back then, false or otherwise. Still… Fishy? With dill sauce all over it.] UNDER DETENTION ARREST FOR 4 MONTHS, HOWEVER, RELEASED AND REINSTATED TO FORMER RANK AND FORMER POSITION [IN – the annoying thing about telegrams is that they cut words that don’t significantly alter the meaning. It’s chat speak from back when “chat” was a cat in French] SLIGHTLY LESS EVIL COMMUNIST STATE AIR FORCE.
CLAIMS ESCAPE MOTIVATION BASED EXCLUSIVELY ON ANTI-COMMUNIST CONVICTION. ABOVE INFO FROM XXX [abbreviation altered], WHERE BRWKAKZXWAZK UNDERGOING ROUTINE BONA FIDES PROCESSING.
LAKES [name altered]
[Blogger’s note: since one technically isn’t supposed to misuse the documents of the archive, I figured a little anonymity couldn’t hurt. Secondly, this is also a precaution in case the deputy in Frankfurt – chances are the actual ambassador was away at some cocktail party and definitely did not send this himself – really did have an affair with his secretary. Sometimes it takes an over-active imagination to be spot-on… Finally, I figured that BRWKAKZXWAZK actually could still be alive. He could be someone’s father. Or grandfather. Or dentist.]