What You Leave Behind

By Mike Johnson

Fifty years ago, my buddy & I spent a summer wearing matching red hats covered with white polka dots. That caused people to grin by itself.
Then we learned the hat trick.

Wed sit next to each other, put the end of our thumb into our mouth, blow hard and make the hats rise up on our heads.
In unison.

Jaws dropped and guffaws always followed.

The secret was to subtly lean the brim against the wall at the moment of the blow. You also had to directly face the person you were pranking. A side view gives the trick away.

It worked best at the ballpark, calmly sitting in the dugout, surprising the on-deck batter when he casually looked our way. Hed laugh, relieving the stress of his at-bat. We pulled that trick on the team all summer. I bet we increased batting averages by 50 points.

So of course I pulled the gag on my grandkids. Being young, they believed the appearance of magic.

They'd immediately blow into their thumbs but their hat wouldn't rise. Which just made me look all the more mystical. As they aged, I shared the secret.

Being kids, they practiced nonstop until they too, could master the illusion.

Ive taught lots of people, lots of different things.

Nothing was as fun and endearing as teaching that hat trick.

And nothing I've ever taught, is more certain to be passed along to others, long after I'm gone.


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