This Russian Spies in the Suburbs story is highly amusing, and makes the Russians look not evil, but stupid. What were these undercover agents supposed to be doing? Divining the secrets of Starbucks, IKEA and Trader Joe’s? Tracking down Moose & Squirrel in the aisles of Costco? And how useful, really, are undercover spies who are open communists, like the Lazaros? It’s also highly amusing that even though many of these spies spoke with Russian accents, they had ultra-American names. I love this bit of Russian spycraft:
A neighbor asked Ms. Murphy, who received her M.B.A. from Columbia Business School last month, if she was from Russia, after hearing her accent. Ms. Murphy said that no, she was from Belgium.
Belgium! Was she some sort of Conehead? Many Halloweens ago (strokes beard, looks away to the middle distance, pensively):
Prymaat Conehead: The little humans. Beldar, go brief them and dispense the consumables.
Beldar Conehead: [ opens door to two adults ] Greetings. Enter. Accept these treats – beer and fried eggs.
Prymaat Conehead: Aren’t you humans a little old for this sort of thing?
Carl van Arsdale: Well, we’re not trick-or-treating. I’m Carl van Arsdale, and this is my wife Sharlene. We’re Block Parents, here at Parkwood Heights.
Sharlene van Arsdale: Yes. I know your family’s just moved into the neighborhood, and I’m sorry we had to meet under thse circumstances.. I don’t know where you people are from, but we at Parkwood Heights do not give licquor to minors!
Carl van Arsdale: Yes, we were extremely upset to find six-packs of brewski in the children’s trick-or-treat bags. Now, we are seriously considering reporting this to the police, Mr…?
Beldar Conehead: Conehead! I am Beldar. This is Prymaat, and our young one, Connie.
Prymaat Conehead: We’re from France!
Carl van Arsdale: Oh. You’re from France? Well, that could explain part of it.
Finally, there was in a NYTimes report (which I can’t find on its site, but I’m looking at in the hard copy in front of me) this priceless quote from a neighbor of the Montclair, NJ, spies:
“They couldn’t have been spies,” said one neighbor of the “Murphys” in New Jersey. “Look what she did with the hydrangeas.”
This was not a spy operation. This was a Shouts & Murmurs essay.