A question I am often asked is: Are there magicians still among us today? And the answer I give is an unequivocal..."Yes." The next question is nearly always the same: What would a magician do if someone cut them off in traffic?
Magicians, of course, come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and personalities. Certainly their reactions would differ from magician to magician. But here is a well-documented incident that may give you an idea of the possibilities.
The great magician Emerson Thornberry—a prolific man known for inventing over sixteen hundred different spells before his death in 2008 at the age of 73—was a commuter from the city of Roseville, California to the state capital of Sacramento. Each weekday he made the forty-minute drive from his home to his job, where he worked part-time as a security guard at a Safeway supermarket.
Usually quite even-tempered, Thornberry was fond of books-on-tape. One day, however, whilst cruising at a loping forty-five miles per hour along the interstate 80—and lost in the latest audio production of a John Grisham novel—a careless driver in a candy-red BMW cut in front of the magician’s own Subaru, causing Thornberry to veer left, nearly pushing him into the concrete center divide.
Heart pounding, and having suddenly lost his place in the engaging legal thriller he was listening to, Thornberry became exceedingly irate. After attempting to get the other driver’s attention by honking his horn, and using several rather unpleasant hand gestures, Thornberry realized that this was perhaps the perfect opportunity to try out a new spell he had been tinkering with. Thornberry popped the glove box, pulling out his enchanted radio antenna (he preferred metal to that of a traditional wood wand) and pointed it out the window.
“Yacketty-Yack!” he called in a booming voice.
The candy-red BMW all at once turned into a very large, very hairy, very bright candy-red yack. The driver, understandably startled by the transformation of his state-of-the-art driving machine into a long haired Himalayan bovine, fell from the creature’s back, and Thornberry was forced to hammer on his breaks in order to avoid running the man over. To Thornberry’s dismay, his spell seemed to have overcharged, transforming not only the BMW but also the Oldsmobile station wagon beside it, a Ford Bronco, two Honda Civics, a 1975 Ford Pinto, a yellow school bus carrying a load of middle grade field-trippers on their way to the Civic-Light Opera, and a brand new turquoise Volkswagen Rabbit.
The freeway was suddenly jam-packed with a wandering multicolored yack herd. Animal Control was called out, as well as the Zoological Society and several cattle farmers to deal with the situation. The incident created a three-mile long traffic back up, and in the end caused Thornberry to be nearly an hour and a half late for work, which in turn cost the Sacramento Safeway supermarket three cases of beer, having had no security guard to chase down the teenage hoodlums sprinting out the front doors with the cases held high over their heads. One can only imagine the damages that followed the delinquent boys' alcohol induced adventures…etc…etc.
Thornberry, meanwhile, had learned his lesson well, accepting full responsibility, and henceforth proclaiming that a magician of any stature must keep his temper, even whilst enduring the monotonous crawl of city traffic.
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