Weekly Discourse Column

I Believe in Magic (and I Hope You Do)

I’ve always been fascinated by magic.

The only item I personally selected for our wedding registry was a magic kit. Sadly, it was one of the few items on our registry that nobody bought. Apparently, I’m alone in feeling that a place isn’t really home without at least a little bit of wonderment somewhere to be found.

I have no illusions of becoming a great magician someday (although if I did, a magician would never tell). I’d sooner die than be the guy doing magic tricks at a bar for attention, but I love the notion of being able to stump and surprise people at any given moment.

Magic KitThroughout my childhood, I worked my way through many different magic tricks, usually just something I’d obsess over for two days then shove into a drawer for a long-term disappearing act. I can never remember a trick for more than a few days, which is as long as it holds my interest anyway.

At different times, I’ve had a collection of Kennedy half dollars (the best-sized coin for magic), although I’ve always lacked the manual dexterity to pull off coin tricks. I had magic wands, interlocking rings, a never-ending handkerchief, disappearing cards, and an entire routine involving foam balls and cups.

The nicest trick I ever owned was a trick deck of “disappearing” playing cards I bought at a magic shop in Universal City, California. The tourist trap’s proximity to Hollywood movie studios convinced me they were the finest cards in show business – the tricks of the stars!

They weren’t cheap, and actually worked. Upon returning home to Connecticut, I used them to dazzle and entertain many of my peers for upwards of five to ten minutes!

Last Christmas, Jenny bought me that magic kit from our wedding registry. I have a policy that at least one Christmas gift needs to be something with no other purpose than childish fun, something that celebrates the magical feeling of Christmas morning.

Believe in Magic

To Jenny, it was a gag gift. But to me, it held the potential of unlocking the secrets to the universe.

I’ve only used it for one performance. After failing to elegantly pull off a disappearing coin trick, her laughter bruised me in such a way that I’ve yet to try again.

After a little more practice I plan to put on a show for some of my youngest nieces and nephews. I just need to figure out how to get them to sit still long enough not to look behind my table.

Two elements are necessary for magic to work. The willing cooperation of a captive audience and complete control over your surroundings.

That’s what I’m really chasing. If I could pull that off on command, it would truly be magic.

People don’t seem to have the patience for magic anymore.

I feel bad for kids who grew up younger than me and had their sense of magic perverted by Harry Potter. To them, magic is a work of fiction in some far off place full of CGI and is limited by one old British lady’s imagination.

The greatest magician of my generation was Ronald McDonald, who used magic for play and to make Happy Meals appear.

By Simon Burchell (Own work) [<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0">CC BY-SA 3.0</a>], <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ARonald_McDonald%2C_Quetzaltenango.jpg">via Wikimedia Commons</a>Magic was so much more accessible back then. At birthday parties, circuses, class assemblies, and fairs. Now, the circus is gone, class assemblies deal with online bullying, and anyone caught behind a curtain at a child’s birthday party has to stay at least 1,000 feet away from schools.

I’m glad I grew up when I did. I wouldn’t want to live in a world where magic is just another weapon in the battle of good versus evil, or where Daniel Radcliffe is considered cool.

I prefer to stay in my world, where magic is only used for wonderment and fun.

So stop by sometime. If you give me a few minutes to practice, sit at just the right angle, and don’t look behind my table – it’s still a pretty bad show.

Next Week: I’m Afraid to Put a Hole in My Wall

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