Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I had brought my old English professor Ross to a magic show. I knew of the magician somehow, knew him to be brilliant, and wanted to impress Ross. The first trick involved a naked woman, evidently covered in shit, walking up to Ross and grabbing at him, touching him. The trick, of course was that the woman was actually covered in chocolate.

The magician called me down to the stage as a volunteer. I was very confident and relaxed about it, sort of performing to the crowd myself. The magician instructed me to walk around the perimeter of the room, along an elevated, unprotected walkway. It turned out to be strewn with obstacles—things to step over or around, at the peril of falling off the wall. I navigated them with no trouble and was not scared.

“What music are you listening to these days?” the magician asked.

I could only think of lame, obvious replies. “Hendrix. David Bowie. Led Zeppelin. I guess kind of classic rock”—I cringed at myself using the phrase “classic rock.” “The Dead,” I added.

The trick was that at the end of my journey around the room, the magician produced a box full of cassette tapes of the artists I had mentioned. I realized that he’d accomplished the trick by culling the box from some selection of thousands of cassettes that had to include what I’d mentioned.