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RandyWakeman
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After the Lecture

When lecturing in Hamburg, Germany a young, attractive couple approached me shortly after the conclusion. The cute girl was the first to speak, as her English was strikingly good. “We really loved your lecture. It was truly terrific magic, Randy. My fiancé loves magic so very much, yet he lost the tip of one of his third fingers. He really wishes he could do the kind of magic that you just performed. But, he is so very embarrassed about his hand. He loves it, but he knows he just won’t be able to be any good at it. It bothers him quite horribly.” There were tears beginning to well up in her eyes, I could tell that this was certainly no frivolous matter to them.

“Please meet me at the bar for a beer, after I finish up signing these things. I really need to discuss this with you two,” I replied.

We met at the bar. “Did you really like that style of close-up stuff? Did it really feel like Magic to you?” I probed a bit.
She continued, “Very much so, that was so good. But how can that help my fiancé?” she asked nervously.
“Your husband to be seems like quite a gentleman, and carries himself extremely well. He projects himself as quite charming, I am certain he could be very successful in most anything that he really loved,” I commented.
“Oh he is, he is- everybody likes him. But I don’t think you understand, that is not the problem,” she went on, a bit puzzled.
“Are you sure you watched the lecture? Your fiancé can certainly do anything I can do. Perhaps you were not paying close attention, you were both in the front row,” I said as I sipped from my sweet stein of pilsner.
“Of course we were! He had his eyes glued to everything you did. I’m not sure we are communicating,” she said, obviously a bit more perplexed.
“Then you really didn’t notice, did you?” I asked.
“Notice what?” The friendly young couple seemed more frustrated than ever.

Then, I showed them my right hand, for due to a rather risky (and dumb) bomb-making experiment in my freshman year of high school, my thumb was blown clear off my right hand, left dangling by a bit of skin. The thumb was re-implanted, and several follow up operations were required to implant part of my wrist tendons into both my thumb and middle finger, the middle finger amputated neatly at the first joint as the tip was so badly mangled. Afterwards, I squeezed more balls than Michael Jordan ever has. The blast was severe enough to blow me across my bedroom, pepper me with wood splinters from what used to be a desk, blew out the windows in the room, and cut the closet doors into pieces. The heat from the explosion melted the lenses in my glasses, which saved my vision.

The couple’s eyes opened widely with shocked disbelief. A lightning bolt of new understanding jolted them. After closely examining my multiple scars, they realized that this young German magician had far better hands to employ in his magic than I did. Their bolt from the blue soon melted into a wildly happy paradigm shift. They quickly understood that the only limitations they had were the ones that they had placed on themselves. Perhaps they had blindly accepted the uninformed remarks of what others may have said. I’ve never seen tears of frustration dissolve into tears of joy that suddenly before or since. When we said our farewells that evening, they were as happy as two people could possibly be. The young man’s expression of stress and dissatisfaction was now smoothly peaceful, yet energized with the hope of the things to come.

When I left that lecture hall that evening, for that very moment- I never felt more wonderful in my entire life.
JimMaloney
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Good post, Randy. I think it's important to remember that handicaps are more often psychological than physical. For another shining example, look at Rene Lavand. After his childhood accident, he could have easily said, "I can only use one hand...I'll never be able to do magic." Obviously, he didn't. Instead he saw it as a challenge, something to overcome. The hard work and dedication has obviously paid off for him, as I'm sure it has for you.

This applies to people with missing fingers and paralyzed arms as much as it does people with small hands and sweaty palms.

-Jim
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Harry Murphy
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Randy, that is one great story! Very inspiring! Very much making one look at him/herself in terms of what limitations we are placing on ourselves! Being old, ugly, short, and stout with doesn’t seem to be all that handicapping anymore!

Now this ole EDU (explosives disposal unit) guy wants to know what in the blue blazes were you doing building bombs in the bedroom! What were you a budding terrorist? Now THAT is a story that I’d like to hear!
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
Uli Weigel
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Randy,
thanks for that moving story. One more proof, that nothing is impossible. We magicians should know...

Uli
volant
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Great story. Thanks for posting it. Smile
By the time you read this, you've already read it.
RandyWakeman
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I don't recommend any such experimentation. I did a lot of ill-advised things when I was younger (I was thirteen then).

And, a few stupid things last week as well. However, the perils of mis-sorting laundry are not that high!
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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Thanks Randy,

Getting real with an audience, can be
meaningful to both the audience AND the performer!

Harris
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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JBmagic
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Kudos to you Randy!

The real magic here is that you took the time to chat with them, and to share experiences and learn from each other.
In this world today, people seem to be blowing people off more rapidly than ever.

A big KUDOS to you sir, I hope I get to meet you someday, I enjoy the company of good people.
Jay Buchanan
Garrett Nelson
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Quote:
However, the perils of mis-sorting laundry are not that high!


Single? Or do you have a forgiving wife...
GothicBen
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Wonderful, inspiring story, Randy!
Joe Marotta
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Randy,
Thank you for sharing that beautiful story. You made my eyes tear up, darn you! Forget the fiance, that story inspired ME! Thank you.

I bet Rene Levand could also inspire this guy a little bit too.
Thomas Wayne
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Quote:
On 2002-08-14 15:24, mumblepeas wrote:
[...]
Now this ole EDU (explosives disposal unit) guy wants to know what in the blue blazes were you doing building bombs in the bedroom[...]


All of my hand-mangling episodes have involved power tools; I’ve managed (on widely separate occasions) to goof up the tips of both of my middle fingers, leaving me with almost no feeling in one and the other looking very much like the angular head of “Gumby”. Nevertheless I strive to perfect my sleight handling and I’m fairly sure that no one has ever noticed the misshapen finger tips - I guess that’s the REAL definition of something “going right past ‘em”.

Even so, I do have plenty of homemade bomb stories from my own youth. My favorite involves the several ounces of gunpowder that my six-grade buddy and I stole from his father’s garage reloading bench. After an afternoon of starting small vacant lot fires and tossing small piles of gunpowder onto them, we needed a place to stash our remaining “treasure”. We opted to keep it in a metal talcum powder can (retrieved from the trash can) and hide it at my house.

Fast forward to the next Sunday afternoon. Immediately after church services I walked the couple of miles home, not wanting to wait for mom and dad. All alone at the house, I thought it would be fun to start a small fire in the fireplace and play with the gunpowder. That’s the fireplace in the living room. With the white rough-stone hearth and fascia that goes all the way to the ceiling. The white ceiling that is directly over the white shag carpet that we kids weren’t allowed to wear our shoes on.

So I’m tossing small batches of gunpowder onto to this little fire and I get the bright idea to SQUIRT a quick stream onto the fire by squeezing the sides of the talcum powder container. A quick lesson in burn rate. WHOOSH! The fire raced straight up the falling stream and directly into the metal container. I’m sure the only thing that saved my life was the fact that the lid, the neck/shoulder and the bottom of the can were all a simple friction fit, pressed on at the factory. Welded, riveted or rolled seams would have guaranteed a much deadlier bomb.

Instead, the force of the top of the can blowing off blew a mass of ashes (from the fireplace) out and all over me (in my white shirt and dress slacks) and over the white carpet on which I stood. The accompanying fireball licked up the front of the rough stone fireplace and across the ceiling, leaving both as black as fresh asphalt. The only things in the near vicinity that weren’t jet black were the whites of my eyes, which were wide open in fear, and in amazement at my own survival.

As it so happens, the fireplace is on the same wall as the front entry hallway and a few seconds after the fireball the front door opened and my parents walked in. As I stood there with my eyebrows singed off, looking very much like the star of an old-time minstrel show, the only thing I could say was: “Mistakes were made.”

I spent the entire summer mowing lawns to pay for the clean up and repair from that adventure, and though I have fooled with gunpowder and explosives many times since, I have never been quite so careless. Go figure.

Regards,
Thomas Wayne
MOST magicians: "Here's a quarter, it's gone, you're an idiot, it's back, you're a jerk, show's over." Jerry Seinfeld
Harry Murphy
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That was perfect! What a nice way to start the day! I almost spilt my coffee on myself laughing at this adventure! Thanks Thomas for the story! OH, MAN!!! Smile
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
Victor Brisbin
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I've often wondered how losing a limb, or sight, or hearing, etc. would affect my ability to do magic. We take so much for granted. The other side of the coin is that some performers with apparent disablities, seem to be able to use their "handicaps" to their advantage, i.e. a comic with C.P., etc. Mr. Lavand, mentioned earlier here, would be amazing with two hands, but the magic he performs with one hand puts him in a class of his own.

Again, Randy, thank you for sharing your story.
"It is better to practice a little than talk a lot." - Muso Kokushi
Margarette
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Very nice of you to share that with us, Randy. It re-emphasizes the point that the only limitations we have are the ones we put on ourselves!!
The only stupid question is the one not asked.
Paul
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Stories well worth sharing. I now know to wear protective clothing while ........

This is an American thing, right? Smile

Paul.
christopher carter
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Quote:
On 2002-08-16 17:26, Paul wrote:
Stories well worth sharing. I now know to wear protective clothing while ........

This is an American thing, right? Smile

Paul.


lol. Paul, while I was visiting your country, two different cab drivers, upon noticing I was an American, asked, "So, do you own a gun?" So when it comes to a fascination for making things go boom, I guest, yeah! It is an American thing.

--Christopher Carter
RandyWakeman
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Quote:
This is an American thing, right?
Paul.


Yes, yet another example of the unseemly behavior your rebel colonists have explored. It was not the "shot heard round the world." More accurately, the stupidly heard in Randy's bedroom.

"Look, Mom-- no hands!" took on a different meaning for me.
Brian Proctor
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I too think often like Victor was talking about. Not being able to do something if I was disabled. Doing magic is one of my favorite things in the world. If I couldn't perform anymore, I would probably fall into a magicians depression... Eh, does that exist? Anyway I am thankful daily that i have my sight, hearing, smell, taste and sense of touch. I broke my finger last year, I do have some trouble from time to time with coin magic because I broke the tip of my finger off and I have no feeling in it anymore. So I am thankful I can still do much of what I can.
Brian Smile
RandyWakeman
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Brian,

You'll be surprised how few (any?) limitations you will have after a while. Vernon did well despite his broken arms, Martin Nash's hands have been quite mangled . . . and there are plenty of others with arthritis, etc, that you wouldn't know have such problems unless they told you.

You might have to modify a few techniques- though right-handed, dealing position for me is holding the deck in my right hand . . . not that big of a deal, and helpful in some ways.
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