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February 21st, 2017

The Village Idiot

Learner's permit to kill

Jim Mullen

By Jim Mullen

Published Oct. 26, 2015

Learner's permit to kill

There's a new James Bond film coming out, and I know I'll go see it the way I have all the others.

Why? Because I want to be a danger-loving, woman-chasing spy? No; I'd just like to be able to do things without studying or practicing, like Bond.

Remember when James Bond out-golfed Goldfinger by one stroke? Bond never practiced, never spent a minute on the driving range, but he played like a pro. I play golf three times a week and I get worse, not better.

Bond walks through Q's laboratory, picks up the latest gadget and knows how it works instantly -- without ever having read the manual. I still don't know what some of the buttons on my microwave do, and we've had it for years. It takes me 15 minutes in a rental car to figure out how to turn on the lights and the radio. James Bond jumps into the world's newest and most sophisticated fighter jet and, never having seen it before, flies it like a Blue Angel.

I go to a casino and I lose every single hand, every roll of the dice. Bond? It's like the place is his personal cash machine. He knows all the dealers and all the bartenders. He's just come in to withdraw a few hundred thousand dollars.

The computer I've been using for years still figures out new and exciting ways to frustrate me. Bond walks into a strange office and downloads gigantic secret files onto a thumb drive between the time the doorknob starts to turn and when the door actually opens. My computer is still buffering a movie I wanted to see two nights ago. Could Bond please come to my house and get my printer and my computer to talk to one another?

Bond flies from London to Rio and before he even gets to his hotel, he has three dirt-bike chases and a parachute jump, then pilots a mini-submarine to a yacht waiting in the harbor. There, he meets the second most-attractive woman on Earth and promptly goes to bed with her.

That evening, Bond will turn up at a casino in a custom-made tuxedo that can be turned inside-out to become a Level 5 hazmat suit. But where did he get the tux? The great mystery of all James Bond films is not how Bond is going to stop the villain from destroying the planet, but how Bond's clothes get to his hotel room. You never see him carry any luggage. He never waits at the baggage carousel.

Who wouldn't travel -- never mind golf, ski or program their own computer -- if it was really that easy?

I flew from New York to London last year, and I have never been so exhausted in my life. The people in first class looked tired, the people in business class looked sickly and the people in my class, Abusive Coach, looked beaten. The flight was so numbing that it only took one flight attendant to tie down our "drunken air rage" passenger. Nobody on the plane was up for one dirt-bike chase, much less three of them.

My feet hurt, my clothes were rumpled ... Don't 007's feet ever hurt? Doesn't he ever get jet lag? Doesn't he ever spend two hours going through customs?

I wasn't met at the airport by a sexy female driver with a double-entendre name like Vi Agra who would flirt with me as she drove me to my swanky hotel in a brand-new Maserati convertible.

No, I took mass transit to what had once been a meager one-star hotel, but was now seedy and faded. My hotel room had no grand staircase, no gilt furniture, no fresh-cut flowers, no wet bar, no spectacular view. On the plus side, there was no one waiting in the room to kill me. How could there have been? There wasn't space for another human being in that room. Besides, they probably expected the germs on the bed cover to get the job done.

But I did feel very James Bondish. Thanks to the airline, I, too, arrived luggage-free.

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Jim Mullen is the author of "It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life" and "Baby's First Tattoo."

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