“The joy of being a magician is that you never quite know what is
going to happen next or whom you will meet. I suspect that this
surprise factor is one of the things we most enjoy.”
This is a quote from a magician pal of mine. It is very eloquent and sums up one of the more fun aspects of this profession.
Sometimes our ‘little tricks’ mean much more. A year ago this month I was contracted to fly to Chicago to work for a family gathering of some importance. A birthday was mentioned but exactly whose was never really clear. George and Martha (not their real names) had seen me at the Tower for years back in the 80’s. Their family now stretches to three generations. The grand kids are now in their teens and early twenties and some barely remember me but their parents were teens when I first met them.
As a ‘passionately Catholic’ family, the eldest generation produced 5 healthy children who are all well educated and professional people and hence had a slew of kids of their own. So this gathering was a pretty significant family get together at 30 people. George had said he wanted this to be real festive. Apparently Martha had gotten some bad medical news and they wanted to have some fun together, fully realizing this might be one of the last times they might all spend together as a family.This whole aspect was played down for the most part and probably not known to all of the third generation.
It was held in one of those wonderful downtown Chicago ‘joints’ on a Sunday afternoon. The Erie Cafe has a grand back room which we had to ourselves. Martha looked as vibrant as I have ever seen her so the whole idea of her being sick was pretty much not an issue. There were photo albums of the latest events in the grandkids lives, a wedding, their graduation pics, and also pics of George and Martha’s wedding about 50 years before. I was secretly thrilled to see a couple of pics in their scrapbooks of The Tower and a young magician working the crowd.
For cocktails, we assembled the teenagers mostly in the front and the rest gathered around as I stuck Kati’s card under my drink repeatedly much to the delight of the adults in the room but mostly to Martha. When I’d glance at her, she would be lit up. All smiles, her spirits danced that day.
Over a wonderful meal, I got to know them better. They all live within 50 miles of each other so this is a tightknit group. A lot of love was in that room that afternoon and I was thrilled to be a part of it.
After dinner, I did a stand up show and then basically played and told stories for the rest of the evening.
It was a grand day.
A few weeks ago, I got a call from a lady in Chicago who talked to me about doing something for a significant birthday gathering…”like the one you did for George and Martha”. She was good friends with them. As we spoke about her event, she asked me if I knew that Martha had passed away around Thanksgiving. The news stopped me in my tracks for a moment.
Memories of the get together at the Erie Cafe came flooding back and my thoughts drifted to that wonderful family who had just lost their matriarch. Once again I felt honored that I was asked to provide the fun at such a poignant family gathering.
So we don’t know whom we might meet…or what will happen next…or what joy we might bring to someone with our ‘little tricks’.
I love Red Skelton’s thought that ‘Clowning is a noble profession’.
That thought bouys me up on days when life catches up with me.