I did a late closeup show at a party in La Mirada. In general, the audience was great, but one man, named Steve, seemed a little odd. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was, but I was sure there was something wrong with this guy.
I put in a great performance, up there with my best. After the show, Steve came up.
“When you get a chance, there’s a little boy who wants to talk with you,” Steve said, a smile on his face. “Because while you were performing, he was standing next to me, and he was saying, ‘I know that one, I know how that one is done, yeah, that one, too.’ Because he’s a magician, too.”
“Maybe he thinks he knows how they’re done….” another guest, a magician, said.
“No, he really knows how every single trick was done,” Steve said. “So when you have a chance, could you come talk to him? It’ll really give him a thrill.”
When I was done repacking my gear, I walked over to see what the deal was. The kid, who was named Quinten. He looked like a regular 8-year-old in eyeglasses. He didn’t look as brilliant as Stephen Hawking, but at that point, I reserved judgment.
“Yeah, I knew how all the tricks were done,” Quinten said.
I was curious.
“So how were they done?” I said, a smile pasted on my face like a shield.
“Well, on that last trick, you touched your sleeve.”
I waited for a full explanation, but none was forthcoming. And knowing how the tricks are indeed done, I can tell you that his explanation was nowhere near what the actual explanation is. Quinten mentioned a couple of my other tricks, too, taking wild, flailing, self-destructive stabs in the dark–all the time with complete certainty in his voice–about each feat of magic.
I just continued smiling throughout, because it’s not polite to tell someone else’s child that he’s just a child. When Quinten had finished with his fantasy explanations, Steve came in with the kicker.
“So Quinten wants to talk with you about the explanations,” he said.
“Oh, I don’t talk about how the tricks are done,” I said.
“But he knows how they’re done,” Steve countered. “He just wants to talk about them with you.”
There is an art to letting a conversation trail off, smiling politely, and slipping away. And that night, I mastered it.