In 1966, the world of 007 was still shiny and new upon the world stage; only one actor - Sean Connery - had played him in theaters, and spy shows where all the rage on TV, all the way from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. to The Avengers to Secret Agent Man (Danger Man in Britain). Even the final, forgotten season on Burke’s Law had the millionaire homicide detective becoming a spy for the U.S. government.
All the boys wanted to be James Bond. Or Batman.
And if there was one thing that James Bond and Batman had in common, it was a cool car. 007 had the Aston Martin DB5. And in the spring of 1966, our sixth grade class at Croughton Air Force Base in England got to go on a field trip to the Aston Martin factory.
When you live overseas you get to go on lots of great field trips. In England alone we got to go to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and the London Planetarium, the British Museum (where we saw the Dead Sea Scrolls, which I can confirm really do look like the result of the dog eating someone’s homework - sorry, but it’s true), battle fields, zoos, castles . . . but the coolest trip of all, for a twelve year old boy, was the visit to the Aston Martin factory.
True, we didn’t see any machine guns or revolving license plates being installed in the cars, but we all got pamphlets describing all the neat stuff which none of us had actually seen in a movie yet - cuz our parents wouldn’t take us - and we got to actually touch an Aston Martin.
I’ve shaken hands with some famous people over the years, but nothing compares to the moment of touching that car, that moment of sublime joy . . . oh, you get the picture.
And then, as so often happens, the day was marred by tragedy.
Standing close to a railing, I pretended to wrestle with a friend and said, “This is what James Bond does.”
And I farted.
Suddenly I was no longer the debonaire secret agent wannabe; I was the kid destined to clean out the pool hall after everyone else had gone home. The expression, “We’re not laughing at you, we’re laughing with you,” was not at home that day.
It took a couple of days for everyone to let it go, but to this day, I’m pretty sure that if I were to meet anyone from sixth grade, they’d go, “Hey, remember the Aston Martin field trip, James Bond? Huh?”
Well, I’d like to say that writing this has been cathartic, but the shame and bitterness live on . . .
Quote of the Day
As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life — so I became a scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls. —Matt Cartmill, Scientist