One of my earliest childhood mysteries happened when I was about years old. It had been a sunny morning, I was playing outside with a friend when a passing-by craftsman impressed us with a simple magic trick: he stood in front of us, then made a coin disappear in his hand only to “pull it out” behind my ears a few seconds later. Looking back it was a very simple, and unspectacular trick, but it surely left the young-me in awe.
By now the the way-older-me hasn’t thought about that summer morning anymore in a very long time, but reading Lex Friedman’s inspiring article Hocus Focus in The Magazine brought back this short but long forgotten moment. While I am not remembering much of the details I do though recall the purposefully applied hand movements. Naturally nothing but a simple distraction, but then totally unknown to me and nicely summarized in the article:
The real trick that magicians perform happens long before you’re amazed. When many non-magicians picture magic tricks, they focus on sleight of hand: some fancy fingerwork alongside misdirection that allows the trickster to get away with monkey business that wouldn’t play if looked at directly.
The article refers to the trick I fell for as the French Drop and a quick search solved this childhood mystery of mine. Indeed the trick is a simple little classic, but I at least manage to impress one more person.
How I not manage to figure this out by myself over all the these years is of course a completely different mystery.