Magic Anonymous – A Meeting Revealed

 

Counseling and Sharing: Cornerstone of MA

Easy Does It.

 

?Hello, I?m Tim and I?m Magic Addicted,? I offered to the table of eight others like me.

 

They may not have been the same age, same race or gender but they were like me.  We were all here in the smallish side-room of the Denny?s in Mystic Hollow.  There were five tables in the room, each with a wicker basket in the center holding various numbers of dollar bills.  Some of the MA members clutched their coffee cups, rolled half dollars over their fingers.  Some of the fingernails were stained with nicotine as they tried to replace one addiction with a seemingly more manageable one.  The desire for the rush was still there regardless of the drug sought.

 

?Hi Tim,? they responded with one voice. 

 

It is a tradition of the 12 Step programs to welcome anyone who speaks in this manner.  It takes a lot to admit ? even if for the 100th time ? that you are addicted.  This wasn?t my 100th meeting, though; it was my 20th but the first in which I admitted my addiction to Magic. 

 

I paused, gave a nervous smile and began my testimony.

 

Read On . . .

 

One Magic Addict…

 

Counseling and Sharing: Cornerstone of MA

Easy Does It.

 

?Hello, I?m Tim and I?m Magic Addicted,? I offered to the table of eight others like me.

 

They may not have been the same age, same race or gender but they were like me.  We were all here in the smallish side-room of the Denny?s in Mystic Hollow.  There were five tables in the room, each with a wicker basket in the center holding various numbers of dollar bills.  Some of the MA members clutched their coffee cups, rolled half dollars over their fingers.  Some of the fingernails were stained with nicotine as they tried to replace one addiction with a seemingly more manageable one.  The desire for the rush was still there regardless of the drug sought.

 

?Hi Tim,? they responded with one voice. 

 

It is a tradition of the 12 Step programs to welcome anyone who speaks in this manner.  It takes a lot to admit ? even if for the 100th time ? that you are addicted.  This wasn?t my 100th meeting, though; it was my 20th but the first in which I admitted my addiction to Magic. 

 

I paused, gave a nervous smile and began my testimony.

 

Read On . . .

 

One Magic Addict Talking to Another — One Equals One.

 

?It stared innocently enough.  My father bought me a Ball and Vase when I was just seven.? 

 

The eight nodded in knowing agreement.  They?d been there.  Maybe it wasn?t their father or Ball and Vase, but no one gets into this alone; and certainly no one can get out of Magic Addiction without the support of others. 

 

The data shows that those introduced to magic before ten years of age have a 40 percent chance of becoming addicted.  When it is a close family friend or parent who introduces the young person to the Art, the likelihood of addiction shoots to 72 percent (or 81 percent in a study done recently but with a much smaller sample size). 

 

I started again:

 

?My father helped me figure out the instructions ? the secret ? and together we practiced on each other for hours.  My mother called us down to dinner and it was like we were a team and both of us had to be reminded to eat.  He was more than a father, then, he was like a brother.? 

 

The brotherhood and sisterhood of the MA were close. We?re bound by a common desire to overcome our addiction to the pursuit of Magic of any kind, anywhere and for any price.  Part of our program, like AA?s, is the assembly of helpful slogans.  To the outside word ? those not involved in MA or any of the 12 Step groups ? they may sound hackneyed or trite: Don?t pass blind judgment or judge blind passes; We don?t hold the wand, the wand holds us; If you?re not being chaste, don?t run; The best load is the load you unload; Before you say I can?t, say I?ll try; Keep the rabbit in the hutch and not in the hat; and, Fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed.

 

The slogans can be summarized with the binding philosophy of MA: One Day at a Time is the only way to conquer the pervasive illness that afflicts others as well as me. 

 

My testimony continued:

 

?The Ball and Vase was my companion and pal.  It brought me the favorable attention of my fellow students; and, the unfavorable attention of my teacher.  She took the trick from me before lunch and told me I wouldn?t see it again until after school.

 

?I started reading John Scarne, Bill Severn, Jean Hugard, anything about Houdini, and anything that had anything to do with Magic.  My favorite part of the library was in Non-Fiction 793.8 through 793.83.  If I was assigned homework in any class, I would somehow try to incorporate Magic into the solution.  Even in mathematics, I was able to use Harry Blackstone?s Buzz Saw Illusion to explain fractions. 

 

?As I grew, I met other magicians and told myself that because there were so many of us, Magic must be natural, normal.?

 

In a Magic Shop, We Got Sympathy ? as Long as the Money Lasted.

 

?The Magic clubs and societies that I either joined or started or promoted only reinforced the idea that it was natural and normal to be addicted to Magic.  Great men ? only men were on the television doing Magic back then ? did Magic; my father introduced me to Magic; my father was a great man and a great magician as was my grandfather and great-grandfather; therefore: The pursuit of Magic at all costs was not a radical notion, it was the only rational notion.?

 

One of the younger magicians, I am guessing she is about 22, got up quietly and poured herself another cup of coffee and lit a cigarette as she walked back to the table.  I was not alone in seeing her clipping the lit cigarette in the crease of her thumb and effortlessly making it vanish within the puff of smoke she blew towards her empty left hand.

 

At MA we do not pass judgment.  I can?t tell you why she was doing Magic at a MA meeting but I know drunks show up to AA and addicts still high on their smack show up to NA.  We are all in the same boat and it is not where we?ve been, it?s where we are trying to go. 

 

One Trick is Too Many and a Thousand is Not Enough.

 

?The costs of doing magic were supposed to be offset by the paying shows I had.  I was up to about five shows a week and during Halloween, I would have weeks where I did more than ten or fifteen shows a week.  But my income didn?t compete with my outgo.  I was falling behind with almost every trip to the magic shop, or a convention, or even a lecture.  I wasn?t a compulsive spender because I only bought Magic, nothing else.  I wasn?t into drugs, drink, food or gambling.  I was into Magic.  I took as much money as I could find and drove to New York City to see The Magic Show starring Doug Henning ? ten times.  I slept in my car, ate hot dogs, drank Coke, washed and shaved in the public toilets and went to see Doug Henning.?

 

I stopped. I knew that they knew what I knew.  They?d heard my story before ? the facts may have been different but not so different that they couldn?t be recognized as familiar.   In a way, I felt self-conscious.  I didn?t know if I should go on.

 

We?re All Here Because We?re Not There.

 

One of the senior members of our table within the confines of the Denny?s, Michael a/k/a Mikey the Magic Man, suggested I continue with the focus on how I got to join MA.

 

?I met a lovely assistant; we worked together for five years before we got married.  At the beginning, she seemed to think my addiction was ?charming,? ?fun,? or ?different.?  She got into it too.  When we were on one of our Magic jags, we were having a great time.  We?d do shows, book more shows near conventions, and drive for hours to attend the shows and the conventions.  We?d talk about Magic, magicians, tricks, illusions and what we wanted. 

 

?She saw it before me.  She saw that there was always a ?next trick? or a ?better trick? or the ?perfect trick? that could make our show better.  We ran through our Visa cards by using them to pay for Magic; we ran through our Master Card by paying our Visa card; and we ran through the Discover Card paying for the other two cards. 

 

A War No One Wins – Pack Small

?She wanted to have children and I know I wanted that too.  I could imagine how great it would be to have a little boy or girl that I could use in the Broom Suspension like something out of a Robert-Houdin book.  I was sentimental about it too.  Like my great-grandfather, my grandfather and father, I wanted to pass along the love of Magic.  She said we should get help.  We should break the addiction and if we still wanted to perform Magic, we could but that we shouldn?t pass along a dysfunctional lifestyle to our children.

 

?She left me before a Blue and Gold show and I have not seen her again.?

 

I looked to the magicians around me and there were nods but no sympathy.  Chances are their story was just as sad or just as bad.  No one was hiding behind smoke and mirrors here.  The principle was to be honest and learn. 

 

MA May Not Solve All of Your Problems But It Is Willing To Share Them.

 

?I knew I was in too deep when I tried to stop and couldn?t.  I was at a minor convention in a Southern state and vowed that I would walk away from the dealers? room with nothing.  I wouldn?t bid in the auction for Magic no longer wanted by others.  I wouldn?t buy lecture notes that I would never consult.  I wouldn?t buy videos or DVDs that I would watch once and put up on the shelf next to the others I had seen one time.

 

?I became so nervous as I approached the dealers? room that I thought I should just cut and run. I could get back into my car and head back home but I really had no home left.  My wife had filed for divorce and it was granted quickly.  I was living out of my trailer that kept me on the road, shuttling between shows and conventions and lectures.

 

?I walked in and immediately wondered why I was there.  After all, it is not wise for a drunk to hang out in a bar or a gambling addict to lurk in a casino.  I didn?t need the temptation and the reality was that I couldn?t withhold its incursion into my soul and wallet.

 

?I bought a Himber Wallet, a Card to Wallet, a Mullica Wallet, and a Zippered Card to Wallet.  I didn?t need any of these wallets; I had at least two of each at home.  Even if I didn?t have the wallets in the trailer ? somewhere ? I didn?t need all of these wallets.  Their functions overlapped.  I was buying magic for the sake of buying magic.

 

?The dealers were happy to see me; the folks I considered friends in Magic loved to hang out with me as I bought the latest and greatest.  I was like a shooter on a roll or a drunk buying the bar a drink. 

 

?After my orgy, I left with my bags of material and gimmicks to find a hot dog and settle down.  I wanted to read the instructions, work through the routine in my head and see if I needed to buy anything else that was essential to perform the trick.  I tried to pay for the Big Bite Hotdog and Double Gulp at the 7-11 but my card was declined.  I tried another card and it was declined too.  I tried my debit card, and it was declined.  I had $1.72 in my pocket and two half dollars in my Toppit. 

 

?I spent all I had to my name to pay for my lunch.  I still didn?t know there was a real problem.  As I sat on the back step of my trailer, eating my hotdog, I realized I had just spent two of my most valued gimmicked coins.  This hotdog was costing me $62.00 more than it was worth.

 

The First Step in Overcoming Mistakes is to Admit You Have Them.

 

I concluded quickly so someone else could begin their ?First Step? experience. 

 

?I didn?t want to be rash, but I knew I had a problem.  I wanted to dump all of my Magic in the upcoming auction ? selling it for whatever it would get ? but I was afraid it would look like I had a problem, like I wasn?t in control. 

 

?Then the moment of clarity hit.  What other people think about me is none of my business.  I had to do what I had to do.  I put my entire act and all of the tricks, videos, books, instructions, gimmicks and paraphernalia into the auction as a lot.  It brought a little over $4,000.00.  This was far less than what I paid for the individual pieces but far more than I could have ever hoped to gain.

 

?I still perform.  In fact, I did a show just this morning.  But my shows and my purchases now are restricted by the MA saying, ?Packs Small, Plays Big, Enjoys Life.?  When I want to buy new tricks ? and I always do ? I tell myself to wait until the next day and if I still need it, I can buy it.  Of course I never do.  I follow the MA teaching of ?Buy used books first, new books next and nothing else until you?ve consumed the first two.

 

?Bottom line . . .?

 

I was pretty emotional at this point.  I knew these were my brothers and sisters.  I knew that they had been where I was and where I am.  I was glad I was there and that they were there for me.

 

?Bottom line,? I said, ?I am not home yet.  I don?t know if I will ever stop looking for the newest trick or the latest DVD.  I do know that I have a choice now.  I?ll take it one convention at a time and pack small.?

 

?Thanks, Tim,? the senior magician Mike offered.  He turned his attention to the woman magician who had done an outstanding cigarette palm and with a slight nod of his head invited her to tell her ?First Step? experience.

 

I was so relieved to have this moment behind me.  I had admitted my problem to myself often but to tell other magicians this secret only robbed it of its power and gave it to me.  ?Pack Small, Play Big, Enjoy Life? indeed.

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