Children’s parties are a disaster waiting to happen. Assemble a bunch of restless children dressed in their best party clothes and fill them with sugary pop and Cheetos. Then run.
Create further chaos by hiring a children’s entertainer to keep the little darlings amused.
The local magician’s audience for the day was a gaggle of noisy seven-year-olds at a birthday party. They chattered and fidgeted on the community hall floor as the magician dabbed his aging face with make-up in the washroom. He lurched onto the stage from behind a cloud of white smoke. The children cheered. Looking like Peter Reveen’s long-lost brother, his polyester sequined jacket glittered in the lights and his bouffant dyed-black hair and pointed beard shone with lacquer. Behold the Great Lorenzo! He looked neither Great nor Italian, but the children were mesmerized.
The birthday girl was summoned to the stage, nervous and giggly in her pretty party dress. The Great Lorenzo whipped up a couple of balloon animals before her eyes, tugged her braids and asked her to help perform the Greatest Trick Ever Seen! The children cheered, waving their Cheeto yellow hands in the air.
The Great Lorenzo opened a glittering magic box and pulled out a velvet bag full of ingredients. They were going to make a magic chocolate cake! The little girl rummaged through the bag and dropped eggs, flour and magic dust into the box. Now to bake the cake! The Great Lorenzo waved his wand and dropped a burning match into the box. Abracadabra!
A massive yellow flame shot from the magic box. The little girl screamed and ran off the stage. The smell of burning bouffant and melting sequins wafted across the hall. The children cheered. “It’s alright kids, everything’s fine!” squealed a voice from behind the flames as a fire extinguisher was rushed to the stage.
The Great Lorenzo emerged through the choking black smoke. A showman to the last, he was not going to let the kids down. He stumbled towards the little girl, who had peed her pants in terror and was crying in the corner. He presented her with a slightly charred chocolate cake. The children cheered again. He really was magic after all.
I don’t know what happened to the Great Lorenzo after that. Maybe he ended up performing in some smoky nightclub in Las Vegas. Maybe he never performed again. And the little girl? That was me. And I’ve been terrified of chocolate cake ever since.