cryptophasia noun The development by twins (identical or fraternal) of a language that only they can understand.


You find your long lost twin.


You walk up to a table consisting of two couples and introduce yourself to everyone. You take a particular interest in one of the guys there and tilt your head at him and scrunch up your eyes. "You seem so familiar...," you mutter.

"Okay, for my first trick... did you know some cards are more ambitious than others? It's true, and I'm going to prove it- Oh god," you gasp with a sudden realization. "I'm sorry," you say to the guy you were taken with earlier, "What's your birthday?" He says July 10th. "What year?" you ask. 1968 he says.

Your eyes get big. 

Everyone is looking at you.

"I'm sorry. Uhm, not to get too personal, but were you adopted?" He says he wasn't. "Oh," you say, "I can't believe they haven't told you...." You look back to your cards as if you're going to try and get back to your trick.

"Actually," you say, "I want to try something with you." You pull out a notebook and write something down in it then put your pencil away.

"I'm going to say a two digit number to you, but in a language you probably don't think you know, okay?" He nods. "Climpity-sklorf," you say. "Do you know what number that is?" He says he doesn't.

"Think about it," you say. "Climpity-sklorf. Climpity-sklorf. [Slowly] Climp-it-y? Sklorf. Nothing? Okay, then just guess, from 0-9, what do you think 'climpity' is. 7? [you smile] And sklorf? 2? So what would climpity-sklorf be?"

"72," he says.

You turn the pad over and it says "Climpity Sklorf - 72"


"Pitpop!!!" you exclaim.

You turn to everyone else. "Oh, my god, this is so exciting. Me and Pitpop here are twins. When mom gave birth to us she decided to give one of us up for adoption. She felt she didn't have the money to raise two kids because she really wanted to get a Jetski. So she gave Pitpop here to an adoptive family." You turn to the guy and say, "Yes, you're adopted. I'm sorry to be the one to have to tell you that." You address the rest of the table. "Of course Pitpop is just what I called him in the womb, and he called me Clonny. We had a whole twin language. Do you remember? I mean, obviously you do, in some part of your brain. I bet you remember everything."

You turn to the guy's wife. "Do me a favor, think of any simple word and write it down on the back of my business card. Make it a noun and something a young child would understand." She does and you tell her to show it to her husband. Then she slides it back in the stack of business cards, unseen by you. 

"Okay, now I want you to see if you can remember what the word we used in the womb for that word was. You can do it, Pitpop."

"I don't know," he says.

"Just try," you say. "Just pull up a nonsense word from your subconscious. Maybe you have it in the back of your mind somewhere."

After a while he says, "Chomby."

You say, "Chomby? Hmm. Chomby. Chomby, chomby, chomby. Uhm... I don't know... oh, wait... are you saying 'shomby'? Shomby as in, 'House'?" 

Everyone freaks out because "House" is exactly what she wrote down.

"It's so great to see you again, Pitpot. Oh my god, I shouldn't be calling you that. I'm sorry, what do you go by now?"

"Tom," he says.

"Tom! Right, exactly. Mom mentioned your new family named you that. Oh, in fact, I've had it on this thing that I've been carrying around with me for years." 

You open you wallet, unzip a compartment, and pull out an image of an old ultrasound. 

"You keep that Pitp- I'm sorry, Tom. You hold onto that. I have another copy at home."

You take a few steps away, then come back. "Oh, just FYI, mom died in a Jetski accident a few years ago. She didn't have any money, so don't come crawling around looking for your share."



A nail/thumb-writer in your right pocket.
A small notebook with "Climpity Sklorf" written on the top sheet. Above that sheet the ultrasound pic with "Me and Pitpot (                 ) at 3 months" written on it. Creased in the middle.
A card-to-wallet wallet or any wallet you can secretly load the picture in.

Part One:

You go over to the table and introduce yourself. You get everyone's name and make sure to remember the name of the target for your trick. Alternatively you could secretly figure out his name before you start. 

When you go to supposedly write down the number, you are actually writing down the guy's name, and his birth month and year, minus 6 months. So if he said he was born in July of 1968, you'd write down Jan. '68 on the picture.

After you've filled in this information in the guise of writing down the number, you'll fold the ultrasound picture and palm it off and load it in your wallet as you put the pencil away. Don't fear this move. It's not like loading a card in the wallet because there is no heat on anything yet. The trick hasn't even begun as far as they're concerned. And you have all the time in the world to load the wallet as you're repeating your made-up numbers over and over.

As you go through this process with them, you get your nail writer on at some point. And when your spectator gives you the breakdown of what he thinks each number means, you have plenty of time to do your nail-writing. Now, this may seem like just a more interesting context to put a nail writer effect into, and that's true enough. But it's also a presentation that helps methodologically as well. If I just ask you to name a number, and then I nail write it, I have to take a beat to do the work. And most mentalists cover it by saying, "And why did you name that number?" or some other not-particularly-interesting question because everyone just wants to see if it matches what you wrote. But here you're asking someone to translate a non-existent language, so the primary focal point is already up and away from the paper -- it's the interaction between you two. And because it's a two digit number based on an unknown language, it makes sense to break it into its two component numbers. So look at all the time that gives you...

You: What do you think climpity is?

Them: 7

You: [While nail-writing 7 on the pad] And what do you think sklorf is?

Them: 2

You: [While nail-writing 2 on the pad] So climpity-sklorf would be?

Them: 72.

And you immediately turn the pad over. There's not that blatant pause after they name the number. That pause always feels wrong. "I wrote down a two-digit number on this pad. What do you think it is? 86? Okay...86?... why did you choose that number?" It's just phony. If you were doing it for real you wouldn't pause at that point, not when everyone just wants to see what you wrote. 

Part Two:

This is just any business card peek that you know. You could use a gimmicked stack of business cards, or a peek wallet (assuming it also has a CTW function). Or an ungimmicked peek of some kind. The method could not be less important. Just try it with whatever method you have. 

When his wife/friend/girlfriend thinks of a word, then he makes up some nonsense translation of that word, and then you are able to translate it back to her original word, that's an incredibly fun and amazing moment for your spectator, trust me.

Part Three:

This part is already done. You have the ultrasound picture with his name and birth information already in your wallet. Now you just ask for his name as if it's the first time you're hearing it and go for the revelation. (You're not hiding the fact that you got his name during the original introductions, you're just acting as if you've forgotten it (as many of us do after an initial introduction).)

  • This is an especially enjoyable effect to do for someone who is much older, younger, or a different race than you. I've only performed it a handful of times, but I find that people are more than willing to agree to the possibility that yes, you might just be long-lost twins.
  • I wrote this up as if it was a table-hopping effect, because it could be. But essentially it's just an effect you want to perform on a stranger, for the purposes of the reveal in Part 3. The first time I performed this effect was in the dining car of an Amtrak train. You get stuck at a table with people you don't know, so that presented a perfect opportunity for this. I've been able to perform it a few other times since, but sadly I don't have that many opportunities where I can talk to strangers for an extended period of time. 
  • Look, I know that I don't have a great many converts to my style of performance. But I'm telling you that -- for me, at least -- people are equally amazed, and much more interested, amused, and charmed by this type of thing than they are you just saying, "Name a number. It's the number I wrote down. Now write down a word. It's house, right?" If I gave a layman a nail writer and a way to peek a word, those are the first two things she would think to do with them. The fact that so much of mentalism is based on the most obvious way of using these tools is probably not great news for the art as a whole.
  • If you want to extend the fun, ask the guy if you can recreate your ultrasound photo and then have someone snap a picture while you roll around in the restaurant booth together.