For anyone open to amusement, the appeal of up-close magic is a reliable joy. Whether elaborate or gestural, sleight of hand is an easy way to garner simple reactionary awe, if not outright amazement, from an audience. Prestidigitation, translated directly to mean dexterous handwork, is an entry-level introduction to magic. The tenants of deception remain the same: present a premise, distract, & reveal a new reality. Even when explained it is never as easy as it looks.
I believed I knew what a drunk “looked” like. I imagined men glassy-eyed in bars or barreling in & out of homes without recourse. I imagined puffy cheeked women clinging to moving life in dark rooms or exhaling catatonic on (un)kept couches. I believed drunks were elsewhere, didn’t have friends or family to tell them. I was an arrogant drunk. A vain drunk.
I believed drunks were elsewhere, didn’t have friends or family to tell them. I was an arrogant drunk. A vain drunk.
Only one person ever called me an alcoholic to my face and he was too much of a monster otherwise for me to believe him. While it’s not his fault, he wasn’t able to show me that my act wasn’t working. It took me almost two years to get sober after this singular unsolicited indictment to alcoholism. Both my parents have been practically sober my entire life (my mom only attempting to learn about hard liquor as I approached 21, years ago). I avoided alcohol most of my high school life, simply by proximity, and it wasn’t until college that I began with the cinematic party drinking.
However, my college drinking was marked by a consistent sociality. Any bodily deterioration was collective & intimate. Still, it is hard to not read these times as a kind of low-frequency self-harm. I gained a reputation for being a life of a party, a room, a scene, for showing up to rehearsal on time the next day, for overextending, for working as hard as I played.
Sleight stems from the etymological root of sly, from the Old Norse root “sloegr,” meaning “cunning” or “skillful” or “dexterous.” My hands are more beautiful than they are particularly dexterous. I can’t draw…