wonder /ˈwəndər/ noun: “the feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable”

This happened many years ago, early in my magic life. I was attending a house party merely as a guest, not as an entertainer. I was there to have a good time, make some new friends, and generally relax. And, while I had no intention of performing, I always have an effect or two on hand. After all, hobbies and interests come up in conversation — if I say I’m a magician, but can’t back that up, I’m just a jackass.

I’d spent a little time chatting with the guy in question, but (quite frankly) I had spent the bulk of my time interacting with the ladies at the party. Everybody likes magic, ladies included, so I’d shown them a few things. I’d show them something, they’d scream, laugh, and clap their hands. They were incredibly extroverted, which is always a plus in an audience. The guy was always hovering nearby, so while he never really SAW what I was doing, he certainly saw their reactions.

Magic is unique in the world of art and entertainment. It produces an emotional reaction to an intellectual conclusion, and there are several elements which can accelerate that process. One of them, I’ve found, is what your audience expects to experience.

You see, expectation shapes experience in all areas of life. Relationships, medicine, socializing — you name it. When an audience has never seen me perform, they don’t yet know to expect a miracle. However, once they do? They quickly conclude what they’re experiencing is impossible, and they are then free to experience the roller coaster of emotion that follows.

This guy, at the party? After eavesdropping on a few performances, and seeing how other people were reacting? He was primed. He was ready. He was expecting to see a miracle, and that’s precisely what happened.

He came up to me and said “hey, can you show me something?” I said sure!

bandsI had him point his two index fingers directly at me, then together, and finally curl them into two hooks. I took a rubber band, and stretched it between his two fingers. He balled his hands into fists and held them approximately a foot apart, at eye level.

I formed a “C” with my right index finger and thumb, almost encircling the rubber band he was holding. I then took a second rubber band and stretched it between my index finger and thumb, forming a ring.

My band was linked onto his. He saw it. He felt it. There were no moves, no distractions, no cover.

Then, silently and smoothly, my rubber band melted right through his, and they were no longer linked.

He stood motionless in front of me, elastic band still stretched between his fingers. He had just watched one rubber band melt through another, in his hands, inches away from his face. Initially blank, his eyes flicked between his elastic and my eyes. I smiled. He smiled back.

Then he smiled more. And more. Before long, a giant grin had spread across his face, mouth wide and teeth showing. He was looking to each of his friends in turn, as if to say “did that really just happen?”.  “No way,” he said. “No WAY. NO FUCKING WAY!!!” He was laughing now, tears streaming down his face, overwhelmed by an emotion that very, very, very few experience in their adult lives: wonder.

That lucky bastard. =)

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