The Dust

I will show you fear in a handful of dust. - T.S. Eliot

I wish I was performing magic 100 years ago because -- if my reading is to be believed -- at that point in time if you had to ditch an item during your performance you could put the hand with the item into your pocket and say you were reaching in for some "woofle dust," ditch the item, come out with nothing, and pretend to sprinkle some invisible dust around. This is actually a technique described in some of our seminal texts. And not as a goof. Tarbell isn't like, "Ditch the coin when you reach into your pocket for some 'woofle dust.' No, I'm just shitting you. For fuck's sake, don't really do that." I don't think Tarbell says "for fuck's sake" anywhere in the entire course.

So I wish I was performing magic 100 years ago, because apparently audiences were so undiscriminating that you could just use this technique and everyone was just like, "Alright." Women would turn to their husbands and say, "Oh, he's reaching into his pocket for some woofle dust, dear." And he would just reply, "Mmm-yes, yes. A little dust of the woofle. Indeed." You could get away with anything! Meanwhile I'm here in 2015 and if I say something like, "I have a half-dollar." I'm shouted down with, "Bullshit. No such thing."

(An alternate theory, of course, is that no one really bought the idea of woofle dust in the past either and that magic has a long history of taking the easy way out presentationally and taking the audience for idiots. and it's not so much a suspension of disbelief we foster with these presentations, but a disengagement with the audience that leaves them too disinterested to call us out on our nonsense.)

Anyway, I've decided that one of my goals with The Jerx is to bring back the use of woofle dust as a presentational ploy, not just for myself, but for all of you as well. But this time we need to make it something that an audience can really believe in. If we can do that we will have a very powerful tool in our arsenal. Imagine being able to ditch something in full view with the audience not suspecting anything. But guys, it's going to take a lot of work to make reasonable people believe there is an invisible dust that you can sprinkle on things to make magic occur. You're going to have to invest some time and money into this. But I've laid it out for you step by step. Just follow the plan below over the course of the next 6 months or so.

The following presupposes you're a straight, married male. Mutatis mutandis, as they say.

Step 1 (Early July): At your next party or bbq, gather everyone around. Ideally 20+ people. Ask to borrow a coin. Take it with your right hand, and then place it in your left. Say, "I just need a little woofle dust." Reach into your right-hand pants pocket. Pull your hand out and then pat your pocket. "Oh...," you say, "I guess I forgot my woofle dust." Give the coin back to the person who gave it to you and walk away.

Step 2 (Mid-July): Leave an empty sandwich bag like this on a counter or coffee table in your house.

Wait a few days and someone will eventually throw it out. A day or so after they do, ask innocently, "Did you see like a clear sandwich bag on the table here?" When they say they threw it out, completely freak out on them, "What the fuck is wrong with you? Are you a fucking idiot? Why are you touching my stuff?" When they say it was just an empty bag you say, "That was the last of my woofle dust, you fucking moron!" Go root through the trash, making a huge mess on the kitchen floor. Don't clean it up. Instead go on a two hour walk or drive and when you come back don't speak to the person for three days.

Step 3 (August): At your next party or family function following that incident, gather everyone around to watch a trick. Ask to borrow a quarter. Do a false transfer retaining it in your right hand. Ditch it in your pocket as you reach in for some woofle dust. Pretend to sprinkle the dust over your left hand. When you open your left hand your spectators see what you had hidden in there at the start of the trick, which is the middle section of a folding quarter. Get really angry and say, "Goddammit. I knew I shouldn't have gotten this Chinese woofle dust, but somebody threw out my good stuff. [start muttering] This shit can't even vanish a full coin. There's no way that was pure woofle. They must have cut it with baby laxative or something." Say something racist about the Chinese.

Step 4 (Late August): If you share a computer, leave this ad that I placed on Craigslist last week open in your browser for your wife to find. (If you're reading this in the future and the ad is gone, you can find a pdf copy here.) If you don't share a computer then print it out and carry it around with you for a couple of days in your pocket, so it gets worn in a little. Add some handwritten notes to it: phone numbers, prices, and an indication that perhaps you're considering prostituting your wife for some woofle dust. See below.

Leave this out somewhere where your wife will find it.

Step 5 (Mid-September): Take 20% of the money out of your savings account or your children's college fund. Leave the receipt for this transaction somewhere conspicuous. Go out of town for three days without telling anyone. Come back in the middle of the night and crawl into bed with your wife. When she wakes and asks where you've been just say you thought you had a line on some magic supplies. When she says, "Is this that 'woofle dust' stuff again? Did you take money out of our account to buy woofle dust?" Bury your head in her chest and sob and say, "I'm so sorry. I got scammed. I'm so sorry!" Really play it up. You want to make this dramatic enough that your wife will be spreading around these issues to all your friends, family, and neighbors, trying to get their advice.

Step 6 (Late October): About six weeks later burst through your front door and give your wife a big kiss on the lips. Tell her you want to take her out to dinner "someplace fancy." Explain to her that you've got a line on some woofle dust and you just need $5000 to make it happen. But tell her it's an investment and you won't ever have to buy more ever again. Be real excited. Happier than you've been in months so she can't refuse you. Once she agrees, apologize for the way you've been acting. Tell her you know you haven't been yourself recently. And you're so sorry for losing that money and for the time you blew up at her for throwing out your woofle dust. Tell her you'll always keep this new batch on you so nothing can happen to it. 

Step 7 (Late October): Act like you've made the deal and return to normal at home.

Step 8 (Early November): When your wife is out of the house, drill a 6-inch diameter hole in your coffee table. Rough up the inside edges of the hole some so it's not too clean looking. When your wife gets home say, "Sorry, sweetheart. I spilled some woofle dust on the table. I'll replace it." But don't ever replace it, just let that hole be a constant reminder of what woofle dust can do.

Step 9 (Mid-November): A couple weeks later, when your wife is doing laundry, take all the clothes out of the washing machine, put them in a trash bag, and put them in a dumpster behind an Arby's or something. Sneak back into your house. When your wife asks you if you removed the clothes from the washing machine be like, "What? Why would I do that? Sweetheart, you are losing your mind... wait... oh god, honey... please tell me you didn't wash my jeans that were on the bed." When she admits she did, start to flip out because your woofle dust was in the pocket of those jeans. Act like you might get violent, then switch to despondent, start to cry, and say, "What are we going to do? We don't have more money to spend...." Then with a steely, solemn determination say, "Ok. This is the only way." And leave the house.

Step 10 (Mid-November): Come home a couple hours later, your face and shirt spattered with blood. "Problem solved," you say, as you stare off into the distance. Your wife is screaming at you to tell her what happened. "I got more woofle dust," you say, vacantly. "He didn't want to give it up, but I got more." As your wife wails, you continue, "Don't worry, my love. They'll never find out about it. You have to trust me. I made him... well... his body... it took a lot more than I intended... but it's gone now for good."

Step 11 (December 31st): "Who wants to see a magic trick!" you say at your New Year's Eve party. A crowd builds around you. You ask to borrow a quarter. You take it in your right hand and false transfer it into your left. "I just need a little woofle dust," you say, as you reach into your pocket to ditch the quarter. Many in the crowd stiffen and a nervous energy passes through as word has gotten around your social circle about the damage woofle dust has caused in your life. Perhaps none in the audience know the full, awful truth, but as you reach into your pocket many of them think about the toll a controlling substance has had on their life, some will think a sympathetic thought for you and your wife, but here's the great part, none of them will be thinking, "I bet he's ditching a coin."

After you sprinkle the invisible dust over your left fist, open your hand slowly to show the coin has vanished.

Someone standing next to your wife will pat her on the hand and say, "A new year is coming, dear. It will be okay."

Somewhere a child exclaims, "That woofle dust is powerful stuff!" 

"Yes," your wife murmurs, to no one in particular. "Too powerful."

It's just that easy!  And now you can use the woofle dust justification with impunity.