The following is a true story. The quotes I include maybe not be exact, but they are close enough to what I remember happening…
In July 2007, I started working at the CIA as a military analyst on Middle East issues (as the CIA’s review board allows me to say). I worked on the sixth floor of the New Headquarters Building, as I was lucky enough to get a seat along a window, something usually reserved for veteran analysts as this was prime real estate in the cube farm we called home during the work week.
My office had a lot of analysts in it, and so did the one next to ours, and the one down the hall, and the one across the hall, and the one in the other corridor. Our floor comprised myriad analysts covering issues all over the world.
One of those analysts was Marie Harf, who was then a fellow analyst and is now a mid-level Fox News contributor. I met Marie through my normal duties, attending joint meetings or briefings, and through regular intra-office interactions between analysts our age. A lot of us were younger, in our mid-20s, as we were part of the post 9/11 hiring surge.
As Marie and I became friends, at least that’s how I saw it, she said that she was going overseas for a 45-day trip to a country in the Middle East. I was only a few months on the job when she told me the news, so I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to take a trip of my own. Still, I thought it was great that she got to go and asked her to get me something.
“If I gave you money, would you buy me a traditional kafia?” I asked, referring to the traditional Arab headscarf. She agreed and I handed her 40 dollars in cash. To be clear, I gave her two, 20-dollar bills. The ones with Andrew Jackson on them.
When she returned, I sent her a message welcoming her home and inquiring about my kafia. She said she had it and that she would bring it in for me.
This is where things start to get a little strange.
After a month or so, I hadn’t heard from her, so I reached out again and asked if she had brought in my trinket.
Again, I got the response that she would bring it in soon. Okay, I thought. No problem.
Then it was another few months, and I still didn’t have my kafia. I inquired again.
“I have it by the door to my apartment,” she told me. “I’ll bring it in, okay?”
Then it was a few more months. No kafia. I reached out again.
“Parker, I’m really busy, okay? I’m sorry that it’s not the first thing on my mind when I get home.”
I responded: “Well, I just thought that one of these days you might have written yourself a note to remind yourself, and considering it’s by your door, you might just remember to bring it in.” I received no response.
So I basically gave up at this point. I wasn’t going to get what she said she got, if she even got it at all.
In 2009 or 2010, about a year (or maybe two) after this, I reached out to Marie and asked if she would be interested in two tickets I had to an Ohio State football game in Columbus. I had some extras that I wasn’t going to use and I knew Marie was from a suburb of the Ohio capital and grew up an Ohio State fan, although she went to Indiana University for her undergraduate degree.
“Yeah, maybe,” she responded. “I’ll let you know.”
“Okay, sounds good,” I wrote back. “And maybe you could include that $40 you still owe me.”
She laughed (at least she typed that she did) and said that, yeah, maybe she would consider it. I never heard anything more and never again reached out.
In 2012, around the time I went to Iraq for a year, Marie became a CIA spokesperson and eventually moved into the State Department’s press office, and according to Wikipedia, has been a Fox News commentator since January 2017.
I presume I won’t ever come in contact with Marie again, but Marie, if you happen to see this, please know that I’d like my $40 back or a kafia from a Middle Eastern country (though I have many of them already).
I’ll take either option. The choice is yours!