“Everything we do here is as old as the hills…”
Every mountaineer needs a Sherpa.
Andy (a literalist with a talent for worldly knowledge, directive, and making me smile) happened to find out that Oslo has a Magic Museum. No one we asked had ever heard about it, so it became imperative that I found myself there. And so it came to be that just two days after our previous adventure, on a bright Sunday (the only day the museum was open) while god was snoozing, we made a plan to attend and be attentive at the 2 o’clock Magic show.
We arrived at the museum, which turned out to be two rooms jam packed with Magic memorabilia and various historical artifacts, less than 20 folding chairs occupied by various people with their antsy children seated firmly on lap, three Magicians and one obviously excited Misty. The first Magician came out and introduced himself as a Mentalist. He asked the audience to focus their mental energy on him, as he was about to perform an “astonishing feat of mass mind reading”. He began choosing people in the audience to help his trick along, all the while scribbling on a clip board.
“You sir! Tell me a place people would commonly go to shop.”
“Ok, a hardware store. You, ma’am! You walk in the doors of Home Depot, do you turn right or left?”
“And you, Sir. You’re shopping at Home Depot, you walk in and turn right. You see a shelf in front of you. Do you look up or down?”
“Ok great…” He scribbles intensely on his clip board.
Finally he points at me.
“And you, Miss! In the back over there…You’re in Home Depot, you turn right, and you see a shelf and look up. There’s an item there. Can you tell me what it is? The very first thing that comes to mind, please! What is it?” He finishes drawing and pauses for my response. As a rule, and because I’m curious, I’m happy to indulge people and participate. It’s even better if I can entertain myself in the process.
I smile brightly and reply “SYNC!”
He turns his clip board over, showing the audience a page full of orderly lines and numbers. “That’s crazy! I’ve just drawn a barcode for a Sink!”
I groan, and the audience laughs and breaks into a tepid applause.
“What’s your name?”
“Give Misty a big round of applause… And Misty, since you were so helpful with the first part, would you like to come up and assist me with the second?” He reassured me that the remaining tricks would only get better.
The thing about painting yourself a mark is that you increase your chances of being chosen. It also helps to be in the right place at the right time, but that can be a trickier trick to finesse. This time, however, it worked. And so for the very first time in my life I got chosen to be the Magician’s assistant. I was over the paper moon about it.
I worked my way through the people (trying not to get my black & rainbow robe caught on any of the tightly spaced items on display), until I was standing beside my new friend the Mentalist. He stuck out his hand and introduced himself.
“Hi Misty, I’m Christopher Carter…”
I had to bite my tongue from replying “OF X-FILES FAME!?” First, the crowd was small and of unknown origin and taste. It’s likely that only Andy would have laughed. Secondly, it would be tacky for an assistant to assert direction or draw too much attention from the Magician (…or was that the reason I was there in the first place?). While Chris was busy setting up the audience for the second part of his act, I tried to narrow my focus and be present in the moment.
The trick was a Mentalist illusion in which he hands me two different books then makes me and someone from the audience verify that the books are real and have not been tampered with in any way. He lets me choose one and keeps the other. He runs his finger through the pages of his book and asks me to yell “stop!” whenever I’d like. He then opens his book on that page and tells me the page number. I’m supposed to open my book on the same page number, silently read the first word at the top of the page and hold it in my mind. He then proceeds to read my mind through questionable, yet entertaining, methods.
“…Now. If you’ve noticed, you’ve seen that right on this book shelf over here, I have a large yellow envelope. What it contains”… Just so happens to be the word from the top of page 73 that I was supposed to be holding in my mind, which he is supposed to have read.
The word was HEAD.
The audience gives an enthusiastic applause, and I take a little bow clapping all the while. As I slip back into my seat, beaming with delight, I lean over and whisper in Andy’s ear “SINK & HEAD!? Those are my two contributions to this show? …REALLY!?” Granted, that first part was an inside joke for my own pleasure. But that last part? What are the chances that by whatever means that trick is actually done, that the word the entire set up would be based on would be HEAD and the person through which the tricks were delivered would be a self-declared “sync-head”?
That’s fucking Magical.
I do, however, prefer the term “Synchrophile” but I doubt that is a term Norwegian Magicians are familiar with. So for the sake of being impressed, I won’t be that picky with my labels.
“Misty, do you know what a Magician’s most important tool is?”
“No. Guess again.”
“No. A Magician’s most important tool is a deck of cards…”
I was beginning to wonder what their show would have been like if I hadn’t put on my robe in the morning and showed up that afternoon. The second Magician had also asked me up on stage, this time to assist him with a card trick. I nodded my head in understanding to his response. Cards were the obvious answer.
When the third Magician came out I gasped and then whispered out loud, “Ooo…The REAL Magician!” He was wearing an ill-fitting jacket and right above his breast pocket he wore a white pentagram pin that read “Norge Magiske Cirkle”. The first thing he said was “Everything we do here is as old as the hills,” and he made eggs disappear and re-appear like little inter-dimensional floating bubbles while waxing paradoxical about the nature of reality. His voice was deep and he spoke slowly, inviting all of your attention. His set had only one card trick. It was his last illusion, which was a 5 card trick that made it appear as if each of the 5 black suited cards he held couldn’t resist the urge to transform from darkness into something more vital, passionate and courageous. He made it so that, in the end, there was only one true card; the King of Hearts.
The night before seeing this 5 card trick, I had seen Transformers: Age of Extinction in the theater. One thing I noticed was that the CIA had a deck of cards in which the suits had been replaced with faces of the alien Transformers whom they were trying to eradicate. It was only a split second of the movie, but you could see most cards had large “X” symbols over their faces to denote that they had been killed or were presumed dead. There were only 4 autobot cards not crossed out and, unbeknownst to the CIA, one additional wild-card transformer; the King of hearts known as Optimus Prime.
“Curiouser and Curiouser!” cried Alice…
Timing is everything, especially in Magic.
After the show, I poked around looking for things to take pictures of and made my way over to the Real Magician to ask him what his favorite item in the museum was. In retrospect, I wish I had asked him if he believed in Magic, but I think I know what his answer would have been. Regardless of how we could define it, could his answer be anything other than “yes”? Still, it would have been fun to look in his eyes as he gave his response.
Chris Carter came up to me, shook my hand again, and thanked me for participating in the show. He began telling me that it’s important for a Magician to “pick your audience.”
“You have to find someone that has…” He pauses to find his words, “…A certain amount of willingness.”
“Chris, are you saying I’m easily manipulated? I don’t know whether I should be insulted or flattered!”
Andy & the Real Magician laughed.
“Well, there’s more of that than you know!”
But I wasn’t really in need of convincing. I was already willing to believe.