Secret Service With a Smile / by Courtney Mehlhaff

I went to see a play the other night at a local theatre. My friend and I arrived quite early, and there were very few people around. So when one of the ushers offered to take us to our seat level in the elevator, we agreed.

It was just the three of us on the way down, and we started joking that it felt like such special treatment, as if the usher were escorting us to safety. When I remarked that he even had an earpiece like a secret service agent, he joined in the game mock-seriously.

ME: "Do I have a code name?"

HIM: (totally straight-faced)  "I'm not allowed to reveal that information."

ME: "Why not?"

HIM: "It's a liability issue.  In case I have to take extreme measures for your protection."

ME:  "Ah. Plausible deniability."

HIM: "Exactly."

When the elevator reached the main floor, he insisted on going out first to check the hallway, then led us to our seats.  I, however, decided that a pre-show trip to the restroom might be advisable. As I re-entered the theatre, my bodyguard happened to be standing outside the door.

"It's all clear," he whispered conspiratorially. 

After an excellent show, my friend and I lounged quite awhile at the theatre bar . . . long enough that a couple staff members joined us after their shifts. One of them was the secret service usher.

HIM: "I see you made it out safely."

ME: "Yes, thanks for your excellent protection."

There was a long silence, during which we all sipped our drinks.  Then he added, "Your code name was Hootenanny, by the way."