Sunday, May 27, 2007

A magician for all seasons

The conjurer was cunning. Dressed in khaki slacks and a checked shirt, he didn’t much look like a magician at all.

His act was missing all the glitz and glam of a David Copperfield extravaganza not to mention the over-the-top theatrics of David Blaine's protracted feats of strength. Instead he had only comedy store props — like the wonky wands he generously handed out to every pint-sized assistant in the room.

To the initiated there was nothing special about the resort entertainer’s talents.
But to the uninitiated there was nothing but enchantment in his dime store tricks and sleight of hand.

"Who will assist me with this next trick?" he asked as all the chubby little hands in the audience stood at attention. One by one each junior conjurer took turns holding a wand, saying a magic word and pulling something unexpected out of some container previously shown to be empty.

When it was Ittybit's turn, the magic man produced two foam rabbits and held them up for all to see. He squished them into his hands and transferred them to hers. She looked so serious as he said the magic words … "Ipso, Upso, Grandilillyposo!!!" She dutifully tossed out the foam die-cuts to reveal a bunch of tiny bunnies had miraculously taken the place of the two original yellow silhouettes.

"WOW!!" she exclaimed, proud of her own happenstance talent. "Could there be more?" she wondered.

"Come closer, children. I have something to show you," the magician called.

As the kids crowded around he pulled a red kerchief from his shirt pocket. With a flourish, he juggled the tissue-y gauze from hand to hand before he began stowing the little prize precisely into a closed fist. The room was silent as he wiggled his fingers and opened his hands to show the hanky’s disappearance.

A second later he pulls the red cloth from the previously emptied hand.
And that’s when the magician steered off course ... "Let me show you how it's done."

I could feel my own eyes bulge. Was he REALLY going to reveal the "magic?"
The adults scooted closer to the edge of their chairs.

Sure we all thought we knew where this was going. We had all seen this trick dozens if not hundreds of times, but we’d all simply accepted that there WAS a trick to it and let it go without detailed explanation.

And that's when he took off his thumb. ...

"If you will direct your attention to my left thumb you will see that it is slightly longer than my right. Inside is where I've hidden the handkerchief. Holding the false finger in one hand, you put the cloth in with the other. Once you are done stuffing the cloth into it, you push your own thumb into it and just keep your hands moving ..."

You would think that such a revelation would be a let down. It would turn magic into a cheap parlor trick and the enchantment would be lost.

And yet, each kid took a turn at the sleight of hand. And each kid made magic happen.

Of course, that was his point: Anyone can make magic.

Later that evening, on our way to the resort's dining room, I noticed a man tuning a distinctive wood piano, getting ready to play a little dinner music. It was the magician.

As his fingers closed around the tools of the trade and he gave the wire a little turn, he let me in on another little secret.

"Hey, I saw that you signed up for the 7 a.m. yoga class ... I teach that group, so I'll see you tomorrow."

Magic indeed.

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