Pick a Card by
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Pick a card. Any card. How many times has a kid asked you to do that? From my siblings to my son to my grandsons, I have been subjected to a variety of magic shows. As I write this, it occurs to me that I never attempted to perform magical tricks, nor did my daughters or granddaughters. And all of the professional magicians I have seen were also male. Perhaps this is changing now, but I do wonder why the guys seem to have the market cornered on magic.

Pick a card. Any card. How many times has a kid asked you to do that?

I remember my brothers trying to amaze me by “finding” the card I picked after I returned it to the deck. Of course, their methods were pretty crude and obvious to an older sister and generally involved bending or flipping my chosen card. Being a good sport, I was always amazed. My husband also enjoyed performing very transparent magical tricks. His favorite, which he did for our children, grandchildren, and any other child who was willing, is to “find” a coin hidden behind their ear.

Birthday magic show


Amazed audience

My son was not exempt from his father’s and uncles’ obsession with magic. We bought him a crude magic kit for his seventh birthday, complete with wand and hat, and we hired an older cousin to perform magic tricks for his birthday party. Thankfully, after a few months, he abandoned his efforts to become a magician. But I was foolish enough to give another budding magician a chance to perform.

This young Houdini offered a free show for our preschool kiddos as a chance to hone his skills. All was proceeding well with tricks involving scarves and balloon animals. Unfortunately, he couldn’t resist trying his newest trick, the flaming or fire wallet. You can observe this on YouTube:

Of course, the children became hysterical when fire shot out of the wallet. Chalk that one up to a rookie mistake in judgment on my part.

I’ll confess to buying magic kits for two of my grandsons, resulting in having to endure their shows until they broke most of the tricks. Happily, everyone in my family, with the exception of my husband, had outgrown the magic obsession. For those who have not or who enjoy watching amazing tricks performed by a professional with a sense of humor, check out the Netflix show Magic for Humans with Justin Willman. It’s actually pretty entertaining.

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: funny, right on!, well written


  1. Marian says:

    I always wondered why magicians are all men (at least in my experience), so it would be fun to see a woman doing these tricks. Oh, the poor little kids with the fire wallet. I guess magic needs to be age appropriate.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      When I think about some of the spectacular tricks like sawing the woman in half or trying to escape from a water tank when bound with handcuffs, etc. — yes, the age of the audience is a factor. As to why they magicians predominantly male, I like John’s take that females with magical powers were called witches.

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    Even if the magic tricks were a little lame, watching the kids perform must have had its amusing aspects. At least in retrospect.

  3. Wow Laurie, I’m sure the preschool kids loved the show – except for the fire wallet – that scared me too!

  4. Suzy says:

    A great description of every kid’s attempt to do the “pick a card” trick. You will be amazed if you watch the clip that Betsy included in her story which shows a professional doing those card tricks and leaving everyone with their mouths hanging open.

    That fire wallet trick is crazy. It wasn’t your mistake, it was the “young Houdini” who should have been able to judge his audience. But I guess that only comes with experience.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      In the case of the fire wallet, I should have looked that gift horse in the mouth and asked for a preview of what he planned to do. I can still hear the screams of some of the kids, and they weren’t screams of delight.

  5. John Shutkin says:

    I love your family’s — male side, anyway — obesssion with magic over the generations while you’ve stayed immune. (And most impressive you have a photo of a birthday magic show.) But you do raise a good point; almost all magicians are male. I’m betting there have been papers written about this and how magic is viewed as a male “power thing” . On the other hand, you females generally get to be the witches. Just ask Dorothy and Toto.

    As to the flaming wallet guy; yes, it sure would have been herlpful if he had said to his impressionable audience, “Kids; don’t try this trick at home.”

  6. Betsy Pfau says:

    You sound like a good sport, Laurie, and lots of fun in your household, as long as you don’t tip your hand and continue to believe!

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