In the 12 decades we’ve been performing, we have always used cards. For the first part of our career, when we were young and impetuous (assuming impetuous means what we think it means), and we are reluctant to admit this but know we are among friends, we even used bridge dimensioned decks with borders and kitties. We don’t mean that the cards had borders or kitties necessarily but that we would perform tricks for animals and residents at our mother’s boarding house in the little town that would one day become Mystic Hollow.
As the Apostle Paul said not about playing cards, “we have put aside childish things.”
On March 15, 1972, we switched to one brand and size and quality. We made the move to Bee Playing Cards made by the U.S. Playing Card Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. At that time, we only knew of Bee deck in the larger “Poker” size and dimension. They were larger in width and height than the childish “Bridge” deck we had been using. The also lacked a border. The beautiful diamond pattern ran up to and past the edges of the card’s back. Yes, they were a devil to mark (or to read the markings later) but they were so smooth, so wonderful. We found that our lifelong struggle with dealing seconds seemed to ease. No border and smooth with great, long-lasting cardstock made for a perfect deck.
If you were to visit our “house” here in Mystic Hollow, California, you would immediately notice a couple of things – we have thousands of Bee decks in neat stacks around the place; we have hundreds of Bee decks or cards in the process of being gimmicked, split or marked; and we have too many animals living in too small a space. We have some Bicycle, Tally-Ho and other quality brands as well but they are under a special stack titled, “Odd Decks.”
Imagine our glee when we heard that Penguin Magic was offering a deck in both colors we love (red and blue), in a poker size, with a borderless deck and geometric shaped back. We know people suggest others imagine their “glee” and that it is a popular way to introduce a subject, but we rarely use it. We only use it as it should be used, when we earnestly want a person or persons to fix in their mind our own emotional and physical reaction to some situation that could be objectively described as “gleeful.” And so we pause as you imagine it or pretend to imagine it (“we care not for authenticity just apparent indulgence,” Napoleon Bonaparte, 1901).
That glee carried us through the order process for the company’s new Honeybee deck in red and black. It lingered and reminded us as we waited a very short time for the order to be sent and received. Our valet let us know the decks were on premises and we drove the speed limit towards our West Hollywood apartment. We wanted to floor it but our “Classic” car is also old and doesn’t take to having a driver “floor” anything. It still has a cigarette lighter for goodness sakes with a small icon of a cigarette but is identified in the hardbound published owner’s manual as a “cigar lighter.”
We made our way into our apartment complex, tossed the keys to the still running and sputtering Classic to the car parker and signed the necessary paperwork to receive the package delivered to someone other than us. We had the package opened before we began our elevator ride to the 22nd floor. That’s how distracted and gleeful we were, our building doesn’t have a 22nd floor. We heard it was because there is some religion that views the number two as okay on its own but really bad when combined with another two. Then we heard the reason was because our building was only eight stories tall. Regardless of the reason, we didn’t have 22 floors to open the decks now freed from their mailing packaging.
Still we were able to get them open – each of them, red and blue. We practiced fanning both decks with one-handed moves that we thought we lost long ago. And like long ago, we narrated the action like a little league player would fantasize aloud about being in the last game of the World Series and positioned to catch the final out. “Here’s Lance Burton doing two-handed split fans on Johnny Carson’s show!” We dropped on occasion but covered with a corny joke or two.
The others in the elevator did not care for our narration but they seemed to like the fanning attempts. It is a small elevator and was nearly filled with well-dressed folks returning from work. We remember that feeling. Considering the work they likely did all day, it was kind of them not to say anything mean or hurtful during our short ride to the 8th floor. One of them did get kind of philosophical, “Why are you doing this?” and one got into kind of a Sartre-specific mindset, “What could we do to stop you?” We are lucky to live among such smart and well-read people.
We rushed to our apartment, fed the approximately too many cats and crashed on our beanbag chair / studio bed. The decks felt wonderful to the touch, allowed for easy Faro shuffles and second deals. The pattern on the back is friendly and life-affirming. It looks like a honeycomb; likely related in some mysterious way to the deck’s name “Honeybee.”
Half of the cat population came over to see what I was doing. After a few minutes, half of that group left to their daily errands, but the final four were definitely digging what we were putting down. They would slap their paw with silent vigor each time we dealt a card. We would turn the card over to show them that it had changed and they readied to slap the next card. Cats will not display surprise – it’s not in their genes. We’ve learned not to be disappointed by their lack of reaction to our miracles. It’s who they are and we can’t change them. But we have stopped acting surprised by things they do. It is a passive aggressive approach but it makes us feel that we have taken some revenge. Caught a bird and dropped it at our feet? Seen it. Climbed to the top of the curtains? What’s new? Used the kitty litter properly? Big woop.
We played with the Honeycomb deck long enough to prove to ourselves that it was a good investment. We may use it in our performances or at least keep one of the decks on us should the need arise to impress someone who is not a cat.
Our one aggravation with the deck is the “P3” and Penguin Magic marking on the bottom of the card case. This isn’t a problem when the cards can be put into a different card case that generally matches the back pattern but is a real problem when one does not have a duplicate, non “Penguin Magic” card case for a back design one wants to use. It is not a huge problem but it is frustrating. We would prefer the card case appear without the “P3” or Penguin Magic trademark. Not that any audience will inspect the card case and we are certainly able to hide the bottom of the case in our performance but still, we don’t know, it’s just kinda, you know…
Check out the Honey Bee deck here. It is well-worth the price and it is a deck you will enjoy – even without an audience.