I had a conversation which made me slightly uncomfortable and I feel the perverse need to inflict my experience on the internet at large. I could warn you that this post contains mature content, but where would the fun be in that? Recently, on one of the rare days I had off and was planning a very vigorous and determined sleeping-in, I was awoken by a phone call at 7:30 AM. Someone had retrieved my contact information from my website and wanted to make an inquiry. Normally this sort of phone call makes me happy, but at 7:30 AM, less so.
Normally, people are hosting some special event and think that having a magic performance will greatly enhance the experience which I think is generally quite a good idea. Occasionally the phone calls are for other things: magic lessons, special talks, robotic voices claiming I have one fabulous cruise packages. This one takes the cake.
The gentleman was looking for some magical problem solving. He had tried consulting with a variety of experts, and invested in a variety of products without success and felt that magic was the solution that was right for him. The long and the short of it (!) is that he was looking for a bit of personal male enhancement to extend the four inches he was currently working with.
Now it may have been 7:30 in the morning and full wakefulness was nowhere in sight, but I had the presence of mind to realize that there was a 95% chance, even though I didn't recognize the number and it was from an area code approximately 100km away, that this conversation was being recorded at the other end so that someone could derive some amusement from whatever I said next. I dutifully made a quiet vow in my own head that I would maintain the utmost professionalism through the conversation and not say anything remotely sarcastic or demeaning. All of the jokes that sprung to mind about being good with my hands had to be pushed aside. I professed (repeatedly) that this wasn't something I was able to do, and that most of my magic used cards. I apologized for not being of more help. I would have crawled back into bed, but I had never left it, and at some point in the middle of this conversation, I had already returned myself to a horizontal position for the sake of efficiency.
Would that the story had ended there. But the phone rang again at 10:30... me no more awake... same caller. He was really desperate and wanted to ask again if I could help him with his problem. Again, I knew not to step out of line in case I wound up on some talk radio show or my friend's Facebook feed. I know... with friends like that, who needs enemies? But I have a few friends that would be capable of orchestrating such a stunt.
This gave me pause to reflect on the dangers of magical thinking. Clearly this was an individual who had been taken advantage of by people making dishonest claims, exploited in the name of helping people. That he thought someone who performed magic tricks at private parties would be able to do something like this reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the way the universe works. These thoughts frightened me because I know from other conversations I've had that silly beliefs travel in groups and I wondered what other pernicious memes had infected this unfortunate individual.
Whatever education, or lack thereof, that led him there; he clearly deserved much better. I found myself hoping that there was a light a the end of the tunnel for him, that he would be able to get access to better information and a little bit of critical thinking. More importantly, I felt terrible for not being able to do more to help. Not the size part, but the education part - trying to insert some reason into the mix.
Of course, none of that changes the fact that deep down inside, I am a horrible person. So when he called the third time and offered to meet me at a Tim Horton's for a consultation, I promptly looked up the phone number of a colleague and dear friend in the magical arts and gave it out just to spread the weirdness around a little more.