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Lo, what befell us that fateful night.

This Q&A appeared on the Tumblr 15%.

Q. How much do we tip to make the roaming musicians, singers, entertainers, etc. stay the fuck away from our table?

A. If you tip them they never, ever, leave.

I went back to Knox College in Galesburg IL this October for homecoming. We spent Saturday night defending a booth in local pub Cherry Street, where we consumed such notable delights as “dirty cheese” (a midwestern attempt at queso) and “beef pretzel,” which was a beef sandwich served on pretzel bread.

On the tables were placards advertising/warning us about a roving magician, who did in fact appear that evening and lingered ominously near our table. “Don’t make eye contact, don’t make eye contact!” I whispered fiercely to my 13-year-old, RJ, who is a troublemaker at the best of times and was also hopped up on magic beans (she took all these photos, and photos of many other things that night, possibly at the behest of the magic beans). “Does anyone want to see some magic?” he asked and she called out, “We do, we do!” Ugh, CHILDREN, right? Of the four folks at the table, only the sassy teen was into the magic thing. The other three of us were busy trying to figure out how and why he was doing this to us/his tricks*. The man knew his stuff: he was making coins disappear and whatnot and the act was quite slick, but it was still a magic act that 3/4 of us did not want performed at our table. The whole concept of forced tipping for wandering performers who approach your table (generally unbidden) is unsavory. It’s just a a step above the dudes who wash your windshield at stoplights hoping for a buck; they jump in there before you can say no and then you are guilted into tipping them for providing an unasked-for service. Anyway, this magician did his act and bolted before we could give him a tip.

Magic beans!

Now, I raised my child to tip right, but this situation was a bit sticky because the magician beat such a hasty retreat and because I don’t have down the quick movements required to tip someone who performed a service I didn’t want and is fleeing the hostility. (Don’t have to go to Magic Camp to know where you’re not wanted!) Still, RJ wanted to make sure he got his tip, so she took one of my precious, precious dollars and attempted all night to tip the guy. She didn’t want to interrupt his act at other tables, so she was trying to catch him in between, but he was so practiced at hustling strangers for money that he was rarely without an audience. By the very end of the night, she was able to give him his dollar, which we could not now spend on candy or liquor or other essential items. We did notice that other tables got much more involved illusions than our table did–somehow he was making cards stick in the ceiling tiles or some such trickery. We got some basic coin work–maybe we were supposed to tip in coins? Was that a message? Anyway, here’s the moral of the story: always tip your server, and don’t give your kid magic beans.

*Sorry, I mean “illusions.” A trick is something a whore does for money…Or candy!


The ill-fated dollar.

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