I went to a dinner party last night. It was small — my wife and I, another couple, and the host couple and their two small daughters, aged six and eight.
It was a nice little soiree. I won’t bore you with the details, but I did want to mention one small thing. One small, tiny, intensely frustrating, unfair thing. Which is this:
After dinner, as we sat with dessert on the table, we saw the ‘girls of the house’ for the first time. They’re sweet kids.
(Seriously, I don’t say that often. Kids and I generally don’t mix well. We have this mutual agreement — I ignore them as best I can, and they do their best to bug the living shit out of me.
Yeah, maybe we need to work on the ‘mutual’ part some more. I’m sure it’s just a misunderstanding of some kind.)
Anyway, the kids came out to get their sugar freaks on. And the older girl brought a deck of cards with her. Fine. She asked whether I — not everyone, you understand; just me — wanted to see a card trick.
(Of course, everyone else horned in and watched, too. Everybody likes to watch.)
So, she showed me a trick. It was pretty good, though she fumbled the cards a bit.
(And explained afterwards how she pulled it off. That really took the sparkle off her star. For just a minute there, I thought she was a little Harriet Potter or something.)
Anyway, she wrapped up the first feat of prestidigitation, and then asked if I wanted to see another. Sure, why not? And this is when it happened. She looked at me, and nodded, and said, in her most earnest big-girl voice:
‘Okay, but this is really going to be magic, because you’re going to use your own hands.‘
Shit. People, I haven’t been set up that well for a zinger in years. Years! And of the half-dozen or so nasty, smart-assed things that came to mind, I couldn’t say any of them. Sure, the kid probably wouldn’t have known what I was talking about if I said something like:
‘Honey, everything I do with my hands is magic‘
‘Aw, I bet you say that to all the guys‘
‘Nah, I use my own hands all the time, and the magic’s pretty much faded. Can we use somebody else’s this time?‘
But her parents, looking on and smiling, would have known. And I’d have been hustled out the door and never invited back or spoken to again. I might not have even been able to collect my shoes. They’d have emptied the cat’s litter box into them and mailed them back to me later. And nobody wants ‘cat poop shoes’. Really, I’ve been there. It’s not pleasant.
So, I said nothing. I stuttered and gulped, but otherwise kept my mouth shut. I think my legs kicked involuntarily. My heart may have stopped for a moment. But I fought it off, and — for once — didn’t make a rude, lewd comment. It was very unnatural. I didn’t feel like myself the rest of the evening.
But I got through it. And it was good to finally sit down here and get out what I really wanted to say. Still, it’s not damned fair. A setup is a setup, right? If you get a good set, you’re pretty much obligated to spike it. So maybe I should have fired back with something like,
‘Sure, it’d be ‘magic’ if I use my hands. But wouldn’t it be positively ‘mystical’ if I used my mouth?‘
But I didn’t. Why don’t I get this kind of setup at work, or when I’m out drinking with friends? It’s just not fair!Permalink | 2 Comments