Three tales of innocence from Israelby Etgar Keret / February 25, 2007 / Leave a comment
Published in February 2007 issue of Prospect Magazine
“Allakazeem—Allakazam!” and out it comes
At the end of the show, I pull a rabbit out of a hat. I always do it at the end, because kids love animals. At least I did when I was a kid. That way I can end the show on a high note, at the point when I pass the rabbit around so the kids can pet it and feed it. At least, that’s how it used to be once. It’s harder with today’s kids; they don’t get as excited. But still, I leave the rabbit for the end. It’s the trick I love the most, or rather, it was the trick I loved the most. My eyes stay fixed on the audience, as my hand reaches into the hat, groping deep inside it till it feels Kazam’s ears.
And then “Allakazeem—Allakazam!” and out it comes. It never fails to surprise them. And not only them—me too. Every time my hand touches those funny ears inside the hat I feel like a magician. And even though I know how it’s done, the hollow space in the table and all that, it still seems like genuine witchcraft.
That Saturday afternoon in the suburbs, I left the hat trick to the end like I always do. The kids at that birthday party were incredibly blasé. Some of them had their backs to me, watching a Schwarzenegger movie on cable. The birthday boy wasn’t even in the room, he was playing with his new video game. My audience had dwindled to a total of about four kids. It was a particularly stifling day. I was sweating like crazy under my magician’s suit. All I wanted was to get it over with and go home. So I skipped over three rope tricks and went straight to the hat. My hand disappeared deep inside it and my eyes sank into the eyes of a chubby girl with glasses. The soft touch of Kazam’s ears took me by surprise the way it always does. “Allakazeem—Allakazam!” One more minute in the father’s den and I’m out of there, with a 300-shekel cheque in my pocket. I pulled…