I tried to trick Peneycad into starting a blog by being all tricky, like “hey that thing that happened to you is funny, you should type it” and she did and then I was all tricky again, like “oh hey great story, why not start a blog and put that story on it” and she was like “no”. So basically she’s the one who tricked me, because look, I’m posting it here.
I was on the subway on Saturday night. It was around 10:30 – kind of a lull time, just before the going-out crowd, um, goes out. I was coming back from a baroque- concert-slash-gay-marriage-fashion-show that I saw with my aunt and my 91-year-old grandmother. But that is entirely another story.
At maybe St. George station, this guy about my age got on the subway. He was incredibly nonremarkable in every aspect except for that he had kind of searching eyes, which are entirely unusual (and entirely undesirable) eyes to see on the subway. The rest of us were playing our required roles of Weary Torontonians On The Subway Who Don’t Notice Anyone Around Them.
I half watched him choose a seat not too far away from me, next to some other guy I dutifully hadn’t noticed either. He then sat down with an exaggerated ‘aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,’ a sound which I can compare only to letting the air out of a bicycle tire. This guy was happy to be taking a load off and wanted us to know about it.
In that exact moment, the man who had been sitting on my same bank of 3 seats got off the subway, and our deflated bicycle tire gave us all a look like ‘golly, isn’t that just Murphy’s law that a better seat opens up right when I sit down, well, gee, I’ll just snag it, it seems like the only thing to do, wouldn’t you agree?’ We wouldn’t agree (or disagree), we were Not Playing. He got up and crossed to sit down next to me, leaving a seat between us.
I focussed on my subway activity of choice, which is to send text messages to my friends, which eventually send themselves when I get to ground level, but once again, ‘aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.’ This sealed the deal for me. I had to keep my eyes to myself; this guy was looking for some sort of conversation opener, and it wasn’t going to take much.
The next time I looked up, he was sort of clumsily shuffling through a deck of cards. Not in a ‘wow, I’d really better get these cards mixed up; look, all the jacks are together’ kind of way, but more of a ‘if I do this for long enough, someone will ask me if I do magic’ vibe. We’d just passed Christie station, which meant I was getting off in 4 stops.
It sort of flashed through my mind that I could make this guy’s night by asking him if he did magic. He was basically wearing a sign that said ‘Ask Me If I Do Magic (Hint: The Answer Is YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)’ but then I thought better of it, and right in the middle of deciding not to, I heard myself say resignedly ‘so. do you play poker, or do you do magic.’
Him: ‘Why, I do magic!’
(I swear, he threw in the ‘why’ at the beginning of the sentence.)
Me: ‘Ok. I’m getting off at Dundas West.’
Him: ‘I’m getting off at Lansdowne! What you see here is a completely normal deck of cards.’
He lifted his deck of cards up, which he was awkwardly holding, as if to prove that there WAS something fishy up with these cards. He kind of clumsily half- fanned through them, so I could vaguely see some writing on at least one corner of the cards. ‘What I plan to do, right before your very eyes, is erase these cards. So, first thing we nee–
He threw an ENORMOUS fireball into the air, then did some sort of awkward sleight-of- hand and, yup, he’d turned all the cards white. But who cares. I was still back at ‘WHOA. You just threw fire on the subway. Did you really just throw fire on the subway?’ Also, I was thinking how READY this guy actually was for me (and by ‘me’ I mean ‘anyone in the entire world’) to ask him about doing magic.
The other riders on the subway, god love ‘em, they were all playing their ‘I’m in Toronto, nothing’s gonna surprise me’ roles all the way to Oscar nominations. Not a blink or a raised eyebrow anywhere. Inspiring stuff.
With one stop till he needed to get off, I kind of expected that we were just gonna have the ‘thanks, that was neat’ ‘oh really? You really think so? Thanks a lot I have been working on it I am really into magic it’s not that easy you know thanks a lot’ conversation that happens after someone almost singes off your eyebrows, but he stuffed his hand into his pocket and pulled out 3 pieces of trick rope. Kleenex, receipts and instructions for other tricks came tumbling out too, but this guy didn’t care. He was on a mission.
‘I have in my hand 3 ropes. I’m the kind of guy who carries rope in his pocket, crazy eh?’
‘You certainly are prepared,’ I managed.
‘As you can see they’re all of differing lengths. I will now transform them to be the same length.’
He started doing some clumsy movements in his palm. ‘Next stop, Lansdowne Station’ came the recorded voice. He sped it up, and I kind of glanced away so he could hurry up with whatever secret moves he needed to do.
The subway rolled into the station, and he kind of threw the rope out of his hands ‘ and now you see they’re all the same length um bye!’ he grabbed his bag, stood up, and started scooping the receipts, tissue and the instruction card back into his pockets, sliding out the doors just as they were closing.
I laughed and laughed to myself. I tried to catch the eyes of the other passengers, but they weren’t having any of it.
– Andrea Peneycad doesn’t have her own blog.
PS, Here is an unrelated link.