Like a Deck of Asterisks

Posted: January 19, 2010 in Blur of Life, Like a Deck of Asterisks

...just make sure they're even for the OCD impaired.

“Asterisks. It always bugs me when they’re uneven.” She exclaimed almost as matter-of-factly as some of the statements I’d spoken a day prior. She lovingly accepted my faux pas after a straightforward explanation of their unsettling origin. From there it was all lip gloss and SkipBo. Hours upon hours of that drunken card game where the dealer is always accused of stacking the deck and toes tap each other with random flirts from under the table.

The last time we’d witnessed a trick deck of cards was years ago on that chilly December evening; ridiculously infatuated with each other. The cobblestone path led to a large central grove which wrapped around a gargantuan Christmas tree decorated with a thousand strands of large colored bulbs. We’d passed some street magicians playing music and begging for our attention to see the “Ultimate Free Card Trick”. He showed us his “battle scarred” elbow from the last time he’d tried it. Anything involving cards and blood has to be worth 5 minutes of time to watch; a thought you and I immediately shared with a quick look to each other.

“Oh great! This is fantastic! You guys will really enjoy this!” The Card Guy assured us as he prepared a blue & red deck in his hands.

He then dropped the red to the sidewalk and continued shuffling the blue.

The guitarist lazily plucked Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” on an acoustic 6-string in a stoned tempo from the background. He and three of their friends shared hidden amusement with one another as they attempted to lure other unsuspecting people passing by behind us. They tried to play it off to us like they had never seen what the Card guy was about to attempt. You and I had a difficult time containing our giggles. The night couldn’t have begun better. I had such a difficult time concentrating on anything but the soft glow of seasonal lights enhancing your cheeks, your enchanting cool smile, and the light breeze sensuously dancing with strands of your hair.

The dude was suddenly ready with the blue deck of cards. Cold, or perhaps nervous, or maybe part of the act, he fanned out the deck upside-down in front of me with shaky hands. “Pick a card… any card… don’t show it to me… just pick one.”

Lucky 7 of Diamonds…

I’d seen and done card tricks so I wasn’t expecting grandiose David Copperfield style mysticism here. We kept a close eye on his hands as he then started flipping through the stack face down. “Tell me when to stop.”

“OK….there. Stop.”

He opened the stack. “Place your card face down right here, kind sir!” I followed suit.

He closed the deck and flipped it over, and then shuffled it three times. Now the cards were facing up as he fanned them back out again. As he thumbed through them one by one, mumbling to himself something about “it’s here, I know it’s here somewhere”, he unsurprisingly, embarrassingly, went straight past our card, missing it by five.

And then he stopped, froze, and lowered his head with a sad, dejected sigh. “I passed it, huh?”

“Yup, you sure did.” I was trying to make sure my smile was more playful than smug asshole. It was working. I began fishing through my wallet for a single to throw in the empty guitar case so we could be on our way.

And then he started yelling at himself.

“I knew it! I’m such an idiot! God, I can’t believe I screwed it up!!!”

“Take it easy, bro.” a fellow magician said with a grin.

“No! I should know better! This wasn’t supposed to happen!! GAH!!” He then took half of the blue deck and threw it to the ground with a SPLAT! Cards scattered like dry maple leaves around us. “Man! This sucks!!” He continued on.

Was I supposed to be concerned at this point? Kurt Cobain was still rolling in his grave as the guitarist missed vital chords to “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. The fellow magicians were trying very little to consol their zealous partner. In fact, they were more concerned with continuing their “Free Magic Trick” slogan to any & all who passed by.

Our Card Guy was now across the walkway, facing the restaurant, staring at himself in the reflection of the glass with a self-depreciating act of frustration. The remaining 25 cards were held tight by his hand. His sleeves were rolled up now. The gash on his elbow flashed into sight. None of this was making much sense. The dollar bill became a wad of sweaty paper in my palm. He was still talking to himself. Talking himself down… or into… the next segment. How is it possible to rip open your arm during a card trick?! He whispered something I couldn’t hear to his cards.

Then, without warning, he jumped up and threw the remaining partial deck high into the air. Some came straight down to the walkway with a slap. Others floated on invisible tufts of air with a slow-motion spin. He clapped his outstretched hands fast around a few that were falling together.

There he stood, staring at his closed fingers, as his smile grew wilder. He slowly turned to face us with a coy look of “gotchya!”

His hands opened to reveal my 7 of Diamonds. “Is THIS your card?”

***Needless to say, they got an extra dollar.*********

  1. Mike says:


    Wow. I love the way you write. You inspire me to write. I especially loved ‘“Place your card face down right here, kind sir!” I followed suit.’

    I think it may be time to write another chapter in the illustriously boring semantic hollerings of Yarphic Barblinsky, Gribelnach, Toby the Mighty nut Muncher and the whole semi-pathetic gang from Yarfmania…Doenchathink?


  2. The Mrs. says:

    This always will be one of my favorites. What a great night, a great story, and great memories. Thank you for chronicling our memories this way. I love love love reading your blogs!!

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