Monday, March 7, 2011

Magical Thinking

For the kids' party, they had us cordoned off in a little room in the bowels of the Clay Center. Cupcakes and ice cream had been served, along with apple juice, and the kids were starting to feel the first rushes of the sugar buzz when a lisping slacker in a George Romero "Dawn of the Dead" t-shirt rolled out a cart. He said he was going to do some science tricks and wouldn't the kids like to see?

You bet.

Seats were taken. Parents and the horde of squirming five year-olds waited and watched as the scientist/magician walked the room through his presentation --something he'd done probably a hundred times by now. His enthusiasm was about what you might expect of someone asked to handle urine samples.

He talked about safety. This was why he wore the glasses, the lab coat and the closed-toe shoes.

"I wouldn't want to get any of this on me," he said.

However, this didn't explain the cargo shorts. Presumably, it would hurt just as bad if he got sulfuric acid on his knee instead of his big toe, but nobody pointed it out. We were all just going with it and if he did manage to dissolve his legs, well, that would be a show, wouldn't it?

He asked the kids, "You want to see a Genie in a bottle?"

Of course, we did and he smiled while pouring a little hydrogen peroxide into a two-liter soda bottle. He mumbled something about Robin Williams and granting wishes them dumped a spoonful of some white powder that was going to produce a dangerous middle eastern supernatural being.

The powder went in, then nothing. The clear liquid in the bottom of the bottle turned brownish.

Of course, I still made a wish. That goes with out saying.

Meanwhile, our scientist/wizard swirled the contents of the bottle. Nothing happened. He apologized, tried it again and nothing.

I made another wish. Fuck it. I have needs.

Everyone stared and suddenly, he seemed very aware that his lack of giving a shit was being rewarded. I suspect karmic forces were in play, which was fascinating to watch, but he tried to outrun them. He moved on to the next trick. It had to do with making elephant toothpaste. There was a long, tedious explanation he rattled out while pouring more peroxide into a tall beaker then asking the kids about whether he should add stripes. They said, sure. They liked stripes on their toothpaste. We all liked stripes on our toothpaste. Who doesn't like stripes on their toothpaste? Stripes rock.

He set the trick up then added some magic science powder to the beaker. The peroxide at the bottom turned black and a head of foam shot up approximately 3/4 of an inch, leaving about a twelve inches of glass beaker waiting to be filled.

By now, the guy's nerves were rattled. These were just stupid junior high science tricks and in a room filled with people (most of them around five years old) who might be in awe of such a thing, he was crashing and burning.

He apologized some more and promised he'd get to the bottom of this. They'd do it all over, he said, but first he needed to get help.

"I'll be back in about ten minutes."

Meanwhile, everyone sat around. The kids didn't care. They wanted to go jump off of things, yell and screech, maybe break stuff. This was a party. Somebody throw on a Hanna Montana record! Bring on the press-on tattoos! Break out the Hawaiian punch!

The sorcerer's apprentice brought back somebody who had a few more experience points to do the science tricks again. The results were equally fulfilling and the peroxide was blamed. Someone, they thought, might have washed the inside of the bottle and left water which would have diluted the chemical --what a bastard.

"We'll get some good chemicals and do this right," the more advanced magician promised. "We'll also get some animals for the kids to meet. How does that sound?"

It sounded fine and eventually they got the tricks to go off. The kids got to meet a snake, a turtle and a hissing cockroach. As for me, I totally enjoyed their earlier performance and didn't bother making any more wishes. I didn't want to be greedy.

No comments: