Sleight of Hand by Deb Jennifer

Other than being able to juggle a bit and touch my nose with my tongue, I don’t have any odd talents.  There is a long list of things I greatly admire and wish I could do: bagpipe playing, fire eating, sword swallowing, magic in any form, escape artistry, and having psychic abilities (maybe I can get some tips from Debutante Eileen on this one!).

I am very into things that involve special instruments, tools or props.  Someone drags a beat up case of any sort out and opens it up before a crowd and I’m hooked.  There used to be a guy who performed escapes up on the street in Burlington, Vermont.  He’d lay everything out first: handcuffs, ropes, chains, locks, straight jacket, and as he was doing this, a crowd would gather.  I loved the act of unpacking — the way he carefully laid each object of restraint out on the white sheet.  There was a promise that something wonderful and dramatic was about to happen.  This guy was going to let strangers lock him up, truss him, put him in a straight jacket, then, by some miracle, he was going to get free.   It was the miracle we were all there to see.  Someone was going to do something that seemed impossible.

When I was ten or eleven, my grandmother gave me a magic set.  It came with a hat full of secret compartments, a marked deck of cards, a rope trick and some brightly colored scarves.  I read the book it came with.  I practiced.  I stood in front of the bathroom mirror trying desperately to make coins disappear.  I was terrible at it.  Try as I might, I was clumsy, full of self doubt, and never good at the patter that my book told me was necessary to help distract the audience.   The magic hat got stuffed to the back of my closet along with the abandoned rock polisher, chemistry set and a half-finished hooked rug.

Now the only trick I know is the one I do with words, but you know what?  It’s enough.  I don’t have a box of props: just my little laptop, and some days, only a notebook and pen.  But once I get warmed up, I can still work a little magic.  I can get the guy into and out of the straight jacket and give him a thousand little histories, and reasons for doing what he does.  I can make that once clumsy ten-year-old girl pull white doves from her magic hat.  I can write about sword swallowers, even allow myself to become one for a little while without risking internal injuries.   And often, when I walk away from the desk, I feel a little like that escape artist — like I’ve just pulled off the impossible. 

7 Replies to “Sleight of Hand by Deb Jennifer”

  1. I think I shrieked out loud when I read this…I’ve never EVER met another humand that can touch her tongue to her nose! I used to think it made me somehow more canine (in a good way).

    Oh, and I’m not sorry your whole magic thing didn’t work out. I’d far rather read your books than watch you pull a dove out of your sleeve. 🙂

  2. …although, if you pulled doves out of your sleeves WHILE you were writing a book–now that could earn you a nice side income and a spot on Letterman.

    your sister of the freakish tongue

  3. I have to admit that I’m not sorry you didn’t become an escape artist either, though I’m sure you would have been excellent at it. Great parallel between the two careers, magic and writing. I’ll think of it the next time I sit down to write, maybe it will imbue me with a little power, even if I can’t touch my tongue to my nose (freaks!). 😛

  4. Oh, Jennifer, when you wrote about not having any odd talents my first thought was: but your writing is magical. And so it is with all of you. Just counting down the days until your books entertain me. (sigh)

  5. Jennifer, the magician works with the physical and makes you “see” what isn’t there. The writer through their art takes you and places you in magical places. In a prior comment, I said something to the effect that a book places you at King Arthur’s Round Table, walk down a street in Deadwood, Arizona with Wyatt Earp, work on Harry Truman’s campaign, and walk on the moon with Neil Armstrong. That’s a lot better than making a lady disappear.
    You have a magical gift that few people have, though many would love to have it.
    Enjoy it as much as you do.

  6. Jennifer, I love reading about how confident you are with your writing – it shows through, in your posts, and in your debut novel, and it’s wonderful. I can’t wait to read your book.

    And I agree: Eileen should do a post on how to fake psychic powers. Nothing like learning a new skill!

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