There is going to be swearing in this post.

I tried never to swear around my son as he grew up and I never let him swear in front of me. This isn’t because I am anti-swearing – I love curse words. There are times when only a loud, one-word description of a bodily function will express one’s true emotions. No, I didn’t allow my son to swear in front of me or his mother so he would learn how not to swear. I had no problem with him F-ing blind with his friends, but I wanted to be sure he was able to turn language like that off and on. It would not be good if he met the Pope and said, “Were the fuck did you get that hat?”

I was trying to remember the first time my son heard me swear and two events come to mind but I can’t remember which was first. One was in the airport in Newark New Jersey. We had just been on one of those flights that had been delayed three hours, then we sat on the plane for an hour and a half, then we deplaned and then waited three more hours. When we finally arrived in Newark if was two in the morning and the airport was deserted. We got on one of those automated trains that runs between terminals. I was pissed off and bone tired. As we reached the arrivals hall the train’s recorded announcement said, “This is the north terminal – step lively off the train.” It actually had the nerve to say “step lively” to me. I looked at the loudspeaker and said, “Fuck off!”

The other incident was a lot more public. It was at The Little Mermaid Show in Disneyland Florida. The Little Mermaid Show is a mixture of live actors and human sized puppets. Towards the end of the show the Little Mermaid was sitting on a rock stage right. Since the Disney animated film, on which this show was based, was one of my son’s favourites, I had seen it quite a few times. I knew that in a moment the mermaid would be transformed in to a girl – with legs. My magical training made me suspect the large rock that the mermaid was sitting on – I knew that this was where the fin-to-legs switch would happen and I was going to see it. I also knew that in a moment something was going to happen on stage to distract me from seeing that switch but I was not going to be misdirected – I was going to burn The Little Mermaid.

Quite a lot of magic is performed by misdirection. The old expression “The hand is quicker than the eye,” is not true. Slight of hand works not by speed but by the performer controlling his/her audience’s attention. The hand doesn’t have to be quicker than the eye when it’s not looking at it. Burning is a term we magicians use to describe an audience member who will not be misdirected. I was going to burn that mermaid on that dodgy rock. I was not going to be distracted, I was going to burn her no matter what because this is my job, my profession. If anyone could burn the mermaid and find out how the switch is made it was me – because I am a professional.

Up until this part of the show we, the audience, had seen every character that had appeared in the Disney Animated film except one – the prince’s shaggy sheepdog. The gorgeous rambunctious dog bounded onto stage left and every eye in the theatre was drawn to it – including mine. I didn’t even have to look back to know that she now had the legs and that I had missed it. That’s when I shouted, “FUCK!”

Not only was my son shocked and my wife appalled but a fair amount of fellow parents around me were horrified and bewildered as to what could make a person shout “Fuck” in the Little Mermaid Show. I pulled my Mickey Mouse eared hat down over my eyes as I made the long walk out.

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4 Responses to “There is going to be swearing in this post.”

  1. Juliet Says:

    I know everyone says ‘lol’ about everything they read these days, but this really DID make me laugh out loud (which is quite rare)!

  2. airsafety Says:

    Great post, John. It reminded me of the following event in my own life, many years ago when my daughter was young.

    At the time we were living in Burlington, VT, nestled between the green Mountains and Lake Champlain. As any long time resident of those parts will tell you, when it comes to a tasty and affordable night out, Bove’s Restaurant is the place to go. Don’t just take my word for it; try googling Bove’s and Burlington.

    While basking in the garlic sunshine of our plates of Bove’s spaghetti with meatballs, my wife and I were openly discussing a less-than-enjoyable meal at another local eatery while our 2 year old slurped on her buttered noodles. As we discussed the merits of a particular dish which failed to please, my wife remarked that it “…tastes like shit…”

    A few minutes later our waitress stopped by to check on our meal, asking “How is everything?” Our young daughter, with a cherubic smile on her buttery joyful face immediately blurted out for all to hear “Tastes like SHIT!”

    My wife screamed. I groaned. The waitress gasped. Nearby patrons dropped their forks and choked on their beverages. There was a moment of shocked silence, broken only by my daughter’s renewed slurping of buttered noodles.

    And then we all burst out in laughter. You know the kind of laugh I’m talking about… that big belly laugh that comes from way down there, deep inside. We laughed uncontrollably for several minutes before settling back to our dinner.

    ~Airsafety

  3. Tom Says:

    Sorry about burning you on the sock trick. I had no idea there was a term in magic taht had such a negative connotation when you figure out someone elses trick. I didn’t know because i am not a magician.

    I recently caught a click on the internet of you helping people to not be scammed. I though this was yet another brilliant clip. I t makes you realize how mislead some people can be, and how easy it can be to scam people. All you really need is a cute puppy.

  4. subgear Says:

    Great stories, John and Airsafety. My story is about the first time I heard my Dad swear. I was about 10 years old, playing at something in the living room. All of a sudden Dad comes quickly through the room, and out the front door onto the porch, where I heard him pronounce “Shit!” Apparently he was too late to set the rubbish out and he had missed the trash pickup truck — again. I was shocked to hear that word come out of my dad, who was always calm and reserved and polite. He later wrote in his memoir that during his time in the army he had learned to use the “universal adjective”, but I can’t possibly fathom that.

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