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She stood at the helm of our ship, her gun cinched tight around her waist. As she faced down a mass of wild animals, they edged ever closer. The sun’s light reflecting off the nearby alabaster cliffs almost blinded us... Ok, on closer inspection we were actually sitting in a small boat and the encroaching wild animals were 500 barking seals. The alabaster cliffs? A rock tower splattered with a hundred years of guano or bird droppings. But… she was the real deal, one of the President’s special security force. Her weapon snug against her t-shirt - the ultimate lethal fashion accessory.
This was the scene that day off the coast of Peru: their President, our video crew, their Secret Service, plus various functionaries. And, standing off by herself, her hair pulled back tight, scanning the area for intruders, hostiles and possible assassins… all five feet of her - the Peruvian Bond Girl.
She looked tough, intimidating, like she had been around and wouldn’t take crap from anyone, least of all a goggled-eyed American film crew. Our several cameramen were supposed to be getting shots of the President, but I could see they were sneaking peeks of her whenever they could. It was on-the-job voyeurism.
What is it about a t-shirted woman and a deadly weapon that makes guys go weak at the knees? Actually, any woman with a gun seems to have this effect on the Y chromosome crowd. The t-shirt just made her seem more approachable… that is, until she cast her withering gaze at the crew, reducing them to a bunch of sheepish 8-year-old boys.
Right now, she was keeping her eye on the President who was swimming amongst the hundreds of seals for the benefit of our travel documentary. He was accompanied by our host and a couple of wet-suited security agents.
They were all having fun. So were the seals. But she was all business. When the seals came up to our boat, barking their boisterous hellos and sniffing at us, we were reduced to baby talk in the face of this marine petting zoo. It was all friendly whiskers and splashy flippers.
But she… she just kept watch at the boat’s bow, looking on impassively, vigilant for any possible threats – man or seal.
The Mossad – Inca Style
The world of international security knows no boundaries. Here we were in the heart of the ancient Kingdom of the Incas, but the President’s security detail was built and run by an ex-Israeli Mossad agent.
It was said this soft-spoken gentleman raided various Peruvian security agencies for the best qualified candidates to create his elite force of Secret Service-style agents. They were young, clean-cut, good-natured and by turns smiling and serious.
She, on the other hand, had yet to crack a smile. As far as I could tell she was the only woman on the squad. Someone said she was scrappy – a street-smart cop who could easily manhandle a man. So there she stood before us: a real-life Emma Peel, Cagney, Lacey, Agent Scully and Detective Olivia Benson, ready to take on bad guys and keep Peruvian democracy safe and stable.
She had her job to do, my crew had their job to do. So why did the guys keep sneaking glances and exchanging looks like a pack of anxious schoolboys?
There was something elemental going on here. The wind was whipping the waves in this National Reserve of the Ballestas Islands, with its barking seals, towering white guano cliffs, and her deadly automatic by her side at the ready. The guys smiled at her, vying for her attention.
She nodded, acknowledging them with a half-smile, probably enjoying their boyish interest. And probably enjoying this unique gig – not the usual stump speech or political rally – but instead making a TV show with her boss. Out on a windswept sea. Not a bad way to spend a morning.
She reminded me of the original Bond Girl, Ursula Andress, appearing magically out of the sea, a ten-inch hunting knife strapped just over her bikini. Maybe we were in our own James Bond movie – “Gold Guano”.
A Kodak Moment
When the President had had enough of the barking seals, she helped hoist him and her fellow agents up from the sea. There was plenty of laughter and smiles - this had to be a first.
Soft drinks and food were passed around and everyone had that relaxed demeanor that comes when accomplishing the unknown. That was when one of our crew summoned the courage to blurt out to her:
“Toma una foto?” Take a picture?
She smiled and nodded, sure why not? The eager young man scrambled up to pose with her. He got close enough so there would be no mistake they were sharing this photo together.
They smiled for a dozen cameras. No one wanted to miss this shot.
Then another crew guy delicately asked for permission to stand by her side. He was so polite… and careful. She smiled her assent and he scrambled to her side.
Thus, began a rotating photo op with the Peruvian Bond Girl - the guys (our female crewmembers weren’t interested) eagerly but cautiously taking their place for a photo to show their buddies back home.
I liked this crew. They were tough but conscientious and cared about the work. And, like a lot of crews they could be a little raunchy at times. But not today. Not with this young lady. It’s almost as if they enjoyed the boundaries her position imposed on them. And they found it exciting.
Whatever their thoughts or fantasies, they kept it to themselves. No whispers or snickering off to the side – they were on their best behavior. Like the young gentlemen their mothers hoped they would turn out to be. Finally. And all it took was an automatic weapon resting on the hip of a woman in charge.
What is it with the Guns?
I’ve fired off a few in my time - some .22’s and a big elephant gun in Africa (target practice only). But guns never had any great fascination for me. Cars always seemed a more potent expression of technology and power.
Still, the sudden explosive potential of a weapon is undeniable. I guess the guys were spellbound by that primal kick in the butt, mixed with the lady-like charms of an attractive woman.
They were as submissive as lambs.
Now… this is a ripe subject for consideration in these obnoxious days of rampant sexual predation. If so much of the misplaced sexuality we hear of is really about power, then there was clearly a power shift out on our little boat.
Forget that the President of a large democratic republic was amongst the passengers here. It was the lady with the automatic that was clearly wielding the psychic shots on this cruise.
So maybe that’s what is really going on with all these bad boys we’ve been seeing in the news lately. Perhaps their warped mating dance with its theatrical display of male baton twirling, is really just a plea to be pistol whipped into submission.
I dunno. Maybe this is an idea some of you ladies might want to consider. The next time one of these self-styled wizards drops his robe to reveal his wand, he could be facing stronger magic in the form of your mini-Glock. Cocked and ready to release its own load.
Then we’ll see who re-holsters their weapon first. And who minds their manners.
Just a theory. But one the Peruvian Bond Girl seemed to embody with her poise, her power and her distant smile. That’s how I remember her, cutting through those choppy waters off the coast of Peru, as she stood at the bow, looking down at an endless sea of mindlessly barking seals.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
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