Archive for March, 2006

Magic Bottle

// March 15th, 2006 // No Comments » // writing

As a child, I was fascinated by magic tricks and used every opportunity to perform them. I especially enjoyed those that used ordinary objects or sleight of hand. I actually could do certain tricks very well and had some talent, but the props were toys. Made of plastic, obviously part of a child’s set, either they looked like unmistakable toys or else they were made for more adult mannerisms to enhance.

Perhaps it was the air of mystery about performing the impossible. Perhaps it was my perception of the rush of the crowd as they applauded and wondered how I accomplished the amazing. I don’t exactly know what it was, but I adored the attention. I was convinced that my gift was to amaze people.

I was entertaining some friends and I thought I’d try out one of my favorite tricks from The Marshall Brodien Magic Set (As Seen On TV!). Using an ordinary 16 oz. pop bottle, I had a secret invisible cap that was placed over the bottle. Liquid would stay in the bottle with this cap on, but it had a hole in the middle so you could pierce it with a straw or pencil. This effect was not only painfully obvious, but it also was performed without much in the way of finesse. It didn’t take a lot of effort to figure out my attempts at misdirection

I could imagine everyone’s gasps of surprise! My younger sister, Gina would exclaim, “Do it again, Danny!” My brother, Nick, would be collapsed in awe, “How’d the little twerp do that?!” My Dad would stare in astonishment, “What talent!” My Mom would cry out in wonder, “I can’t believe it!”

I went into the guest bathroom to fill up a Pepsi bottle in the sink. I ran it under the sink, overfilling it in my eager excitement to please. It started dripping all over the place, getting on the floor, soaking my hand-me-down clothes. Thinking quickly, I held it over the toilet to catch the water. I congratulated myself at my brilliance. Unfortunately, since the bottle was wet, it was also slippery. It shot out of my hands and I heard the shattering sound as it fell. I gasped in horror! I thought it broke inside the toilet, sprinkling glass inside the bowl. I should be so lucky! When I looked down, I stared in amazement. In a puddle of water lay the bottle, completely whole! I stared in confusion. Where was the water coming from? What about the broken glass I heard? I soon found out as I looked towards the source of the water.

It was the end of my innocence that day. The appliance we use the most and think perhaps the least about, our toilet, was in its mortal throes. I had dealt the death blow in one stroke and taken my first life that day. A torrent of water spewed forth. I stared in confusion, wracked with shame and guilt. It’s dead! I killed it! What would my family say?

I could imagine everyone’s gasps of surprise! My younger sister, Gina would exclaim, “Do it again, Danny!” My brother, Nick, would be collapsed in awe, “How’d the little twerp do that?!” My Dad would stare in astonishment, “What talent!” My Mom would cry out in wonder, “I can’t believe it!”

I ran screaming from the bathroom, hollering at the top of my lungs “I broke the toilet! I broke the toilet!” My Mom and her guests (who I guess I managed to entertain after all) stood nearby, uncertain whether to convey sympathy or burst out laughing. Perhaps they thought that this sort of thing happened all the time in our house or even that we had a warehouse of commodes in storage lined up for this type of emergency.

I waited for hours that day for my father to arrive home. No punishment could have been worse than what I put myself through. I agonized. In my mind, nothing in the world could be more dire than the destruction of the most important appliance in the house. I agonized over the possible punishments that my parents could inflict on me. Gone was the promised trip to Six Flags Great America this summer. Evaporating before me was all the lost promise of fun and excitement of the year! I might as well crawl into the septic tank now and start digging. I was dead.

What would my father do to me? I know that in his own way, he loved the toilet like a member of the family. He spent a good deal of time in there and I had taken away his solace, the one place in the house where he could get away from us. I imagined all kinds of punishment and torture that lay await for me, such a careless son to cast destruction about with no regard for the precious things in life. Would I be drawn and quartered? I didn’t even know what that meant, but it had to be bad! Terrible things awaited me, I was sure of it. At the very least, I would be grounded until I forgot what the sun looked like.

My dad came home and it was my mother’s idea that we not tell him anything but rather allow him to discover it for himself. I waited in silent dismay to hear my father’s yells of rage at The Broken Commode. I knew that no crime in childhood could be greater.

Instead, I waited through the silence, huddled in shame near the closed door of the bathroom. A litany of excuses paraded about my head, challenging the sheer logic of my utter guilt. Perhaps I could draft a clever excuse and evade a young death. It was something coming out of the toilet, Dad — like an alligator! I had to stop it with the Pepsi bottle! But don’t worry, I think it’s gone! I shook my head. Who was I kidding? I was doomed. When that door opened, I was destined to die a young and foolish death.

I finally heard my Dad exclaim in a puzzled voice “What happened in here?” I was overjoyed to hear more confusion than anger in his voice. He knew everything and I had never seen him confused before. We didn’t realize it at my early age, but I would bring him much amazement and confusion throughout my life.

Unable to keep silent in the face of his surprise, I burst out, “I did it, Dad! It was my fault!” I started to explain that I dropped a bottle in the toilet and that’s when I heard him start laughing. It started as small giggle, then an unrestrained belly-laugh. I started laughing, as well, realizing that it was pretty funny. I soon forgot to be upset at it and we all shared a laugh together. Weeks would go by afterwards as my Dad would ask me, laughter creeping into his voice, “Dan, tell us again, how you broke the toilet?” It always ended up with the rest of the family in laughter. It became one of my favorite stories to tell.

There never was a prouder sight than a brand new shining commode being unloaded by my father and grandfather into the bathroom and being installed! It had everything on it except a big red bow. Most people get excited over new electronics, but I still get a gleam in my eye and a catch in my throat amidst the plumbing section at Home Depot. I was very proud to see a working toilet installed. After that day, I kept all bottles, magical or otherwise away from the toilet. I had learned my lesson!