French poet, art critic and Oscar winner Kevin Spacey once said that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. Well, if that’s the illusionary extent of the Devil’s sleight of hand parlor tricks than he ain’t got nothing on me. (While were on the subject neither does Superman and Green Lantern) Besides that week I spent in a Hollywood hotel room with Edward Lewis for $3000 (I’d have done it for $2000) the greatest trick I ever
turned pulled was convincing Jack that I could make a quarter disappear my placing it in a box, waving my hand over the top and saying the all-important and legally required magic word coined by the renowned magic troupe The Steve Miller Band back in 1982, “Abra-Abra-Cadabra”.
The secret to a great magic trick? Silk and satin, leather and lace, Black panties with an angel’s face.
Jack attended a birthday party on Friday evening at which the entertainment was, besides betting on which child would be the first to consume enough soda and cake to lapse into an insulin coma, a magician who performed under the name Domino the Great. (Personal Reminder: Birthday magician seems like a perfect gig for picking up single mothers. Check to see if Momino the Great is an available name with the Magician’s Guild). Each child was given a gift bag of beginner magic tricks, choking hazards and a stack of Domino the Great’s business cards with detailed instructions to distribute them to friends, family and anybody in need of light yard work assistance. One of the tricks in the goody bag was called the Coin Slide.
The coin slide is a box with a removable drawer that has a space to place a coin. By placing the coin in drawer and pushing it back into the box the coin is moved into a secret compartment so when the drawer is removed it appears the coin has vanished. Flipping the drawer and reinserting it makes the coin reappear. (I’ve just been informed by my lawyer Val Valentino Esq. that by revealing the secret to the Coin slide I have broken the sacred magician’s code. I’ve also just been informed by my wife that because I still haven’t put the safety locks on the kitchen cabinets Adam has just broken the sacred kitchen utensil drawer.) All night Friday I MindFreaked Jack by pretending to inhale the quarter, throw the quarter into thin air, push the quarter in my head or hand, or push the quarter into Jack’s head or hand then by saying the magic words and climbing to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 the quarter would magically reappear.
Jack eventually figured out the inner workings of the coin slide box as he has done with all my tricks, but I treasured those brief moments in which he believed that I can do magic, that I can have anything that I desire. Magic, and he knows I’m the one who can put out the fire. (He also knows that he’s not supposed to tell mommy about that fire and if he keeps it between us we’ll play the Ben10 Video Game he’s always hassling me about)
So like I said before, alcoholic, opium-addict and syphilis sufferer Kevin Spacey claimed that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist, but I contend the greatest trick Old Scratch ever pulled on humans was the creation of fast-food and retail clerks.
On Saturday morning Kathleen was slaving away at the Dry Cleaners rummaging through laundry bins looking for 32×34 flat-front men’s dress pants that she could later convince the original owner never existed, I was driving Jack and Adam over to a place called Bounce-N-Party; an indoor entertainment center filled with enormous inflatable jumpers like the ones they used when they faked the moon landing. Their motto is the same one stamped to the leg of the Blow-Up doll I had to give up due to Jack’s latex allergy “Super Clean Inflatable Entertainment”
Having not eaten breakfast yet, I pulled into the McDonald’s Drive-Thru to get some food for Jack and me. I ordered a large coffee and the 2 Sausage McMuffins for $3 deal and then it was time to order for Jack. Now, Jack loves bacon. I could deep fry a copy of Charlotte’s Web and he would eat it; unfortunately there is nothing on the menu called a McBacon a Box so I had to special order it.
“Just put a handful of bacon in a box and I’ll pay for it. Charge me whatever you need.” I yelled to the digital display. Silence. “What?” came the response after a few seconds. “Just put bacon in a box! I’ll pay whatever it costs! Bacon. Box.” Silence. (I’m not made of money, I’m actually made of a cotton/poly blend but how much could bacon be?) Finally, 3 PIECES BACON – $.50 scrolled onto the screen. “Put more bacon in the box!” I yelled at the monitor. Silence. Moments later 6 PIECES BACON – $1.00 appeared. “That’s enough bacon, Thank You!” I yelled at the screen then pulled up to pay and collect our box of miraculous pig.
Minutes later we were entering Bounce-N-Party where I was promptly horse-collared by the front desk clerk and informed that Bounce-N-Party policy clearly states that since Bounce-N-Party sells refreshments no outside food or beverage is allowed in Bounce-N-Party and that I would have to dispose of my full cup of coffee before proceeding onto the floor. “Can you charge me for a cup of coffee and I’ll just bring my coffee in.” I inquired trying to prevent Adam from cliff diving from my arms. Silence. Then “No, that is against Bounce-N-Party policy.” was the response. “OK, how about you sell me a cup of coffee, but don’t fill the cup and I’ll just transfer the contents of my cup into one of your cups?” I said holding Adam by his ankle inches from the floor. Silence. Then “Huh?” was the response. “I’ll buy a cup of your coffee. You give me an empty cup. I’ll pour my coffee into your cup. I’ll throw away my cup. My Coffee. Your Cup.” Silence. “I should ask my manager, but I guess I could do that.”
So with a Bounce-N-Party Styrofoam cup filled with McDonalds coffee (Note to Bounce-N-Party – your cups are 12 oz and my cup was 16 oz. You owe me 4 oz of coffee next time we come to your establishment) I spent the next two hours watching Jack Houdini himself in and out of mostly Disney themed super clean inflatable entertainment from Mr. Incredible to Lightning McQueen to Jurassic Park. Meanwhile, Adam struggled to gain secure footing on even the mats in front of the jumpers. After they both got tired of imitating Neil Armstrong, Jack demonstrated his new mastery of the vanishing quarter trick by making every one I had in my pocket disappear into a Skee-Ball game as Adam addressed the most important detail of a magician’s act, the sexy assistant, by systematically reaching out and grabbing the legs of every jumper attendant on staff.
God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates Super Clean Inflatable Entertainment.
Right before we went home I thought again of how depressed suburban father in a mid-life crisis, physically and emotionally scarred social studies teacher and legendary mastermind criminal Kevin Spacey believed that greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.
Watching Jack put an inflatable triceratops in a head lock and Adam audition the thigh of an attendant named Rachael I was reminded that I was looking at the proof that I did.