March 18th, 2008

More of Lisa's strange past

Today, while rummaging for an old photo for a friend, I stumbled across this:

I think I'm 15 here. Yep, while other kids were babysitting or flipping burgers to make extra dough during their high school years, I was performing magic. I did an act that started with a few standards like the linking rings and a dancing cane, and then wound up with my dove act, the finale of which was popping a balloon to produce a bird. Sometimes I worked with a partner, sometimes I worked with a group, and sometimes I went solo.

Most of the gigs were for children's parties, and on a good weekend I could turn fifty bucks, which was a lot of money for a kid back then. We didn't have much money when I was a teen, so anything I wanted (gee, could it have been BOOKS?) I had to buy with my magic money. I also set aside some of what I earned to keep buying better equipment.

I was truthfully not a brilliant magician. I had two patient and amazing teachers, Jim Riley and Gordon Plummer; I know Mr. Plummer is long gone now, but I've often wished I could track down Mr. Riley and thank him, since he also taught me how to write. I studied hard and liked doing it, but I suffered from three big handicaps: 1) My hands were too small to palm anything bigger than a dime (Riley, who was 6'6", had hands so big he could palm a large orange!), so sleight of hand was out for me; 2) I never mastered the fine art of projection, so when I performed in larger venues (like auditoriums), no one could hear me; and 3) I frankly wasn't very fond of children.

One of my few regrets (and I'm thankful it doesn't get any worse than this, believe me) is that I now have nothing to show for those years. When I went off to college, my mom sold all my equipment, and I have kicked myself ever since for not begging her to keep a few things (I had some gorgeous antique equipment I bought at a magic auction). I also won a few contests back then (okay, I never placed higher than third in a big regional contest, but still...), and I don't even have any of my little trophies any more. In fact, until last night I even thought this picture was gone.

And please - don't ask me to perform a trick next time I see you; I remember virtually nothing. If you put some of the bigger equipment in front of me, I might still be able to operate it, but that's it.

Besides - my hands are still too small for table magic!