Magical acts bring out the child in this columnist |

Magical acts bring out the child in this columnist

Summit Daily file photoAndrew Gmerek

Now that I have two small children, I try hard to maintain my adulthood. I spend hours sharpening my financial planning and bill paying skills. I struggle diligently to make sure my children are growing up in a constructive, safe, stable and imaginative household. There are times, however, when the thin veneer of adulthood I maintain cracks and splits apart, and I revert into a kid again. And there is almost no time this happens more than when I’m surrounded by magic. Not the Wicca kind of magic, of course, with a bunch of people dancing around pentagrams with flowers in their hair. I’m talking about the stage kind of hocus-pocus that I grew up loving. The pulling-a-rabbit-out-of-a-hat kind of magic that runs the gambit from cheesy to absolutely, well, magical.

I recently had the chance to escape from adulthood here in the High Country when I took a trip into the world of magic, which appears once every year in the City of Fort Collins.Magic in the Rockies is a three-day conference, trade show and series of stage shows sponsored by a magic club on the Front Range. It draws thousands of amateur and professional magicians from around the country, and it is considered by many to be one of the best gatherings of prestidigitators anywhere.And this year, even though I was not able to attend the conference, I was able to sneak away from the wife and kids for one evening of shows, and I even scored a pass into the dealers’ room. Which, I found out is an area packed with some of the most wonderful objects known to man. Growing up in Indianapolis, Ind., a city without a decent magic shop, left me with a secret childhood urge that I’ve carried throughout my life. So when I first moved to Colorado I knew I was finally “home” because back in the early 90s there was a donut shop on every corner and more than three of the best magic shops I’d ever visited.

Unfortunately, with the advent of internet shopping it is extremely difficult for brick and mortar magic shops to survive, and most of those wonderful places are now gone.Which causes me to speculate if a kid today will ever have the chance to wander into a place where every item on the shelves holds a secret and where the guy or gal behind the counter can not only ring up a purchase, but can also make objects appear, vanish, change color and levitate.In recent years the art of magic has been taken over by a new wave of performers that, much like in the music industry, can only be described as grudge. These magicians belonging to this sect think nothing of dressing like destitute snowboarders and picking their noses on television before they do their routines. And even though I find these performers excellent magicians, I’m embarrassed by their style.But every now and then I still get to see a magic show or I get the rare chance to happen upon a real magic shop staffed by superb conjurers and it tugs at my heart. And then, even if my kids and wife are with me and I’m worried about the mortgage payment, I just can’t help but sneak over to take just a peek.

And I’m certain that as I look in the window at all those wonderful illusions my reflection in the glass transforms into the image of me when I was a kid.And that, as they say, is magic.Andrew Gmerek writes a Friday column. He can be reached at

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