I am a reformed sucker for flash and panache and all that glitters. It had been a downfall of mine for a good portion of my life. Make me laugh, dazzle me with brilliance, astonish me with wit and I am less likely to notice your hand picking my pocket. I will gleefully clap and smile hugely, never noticing the man behind the curtain.
Initially that is.
As a kid, I loved carnivals, especially the boothies. The fast talking, the egging on, and the glittery prizes. My grandfather took me to a small one once and later remarked to my mother that she better keep an eye on me as I grew older, because I seemed to gravitate towards things that with bells and whistles. I think that was a euphemism for Gamblers, and Ne’er Do Wells.
He nailed it because between bouts of sanity and self-imposed restrictions, I could easily slip into the arms of someone selling me ice on a cold day. It’s not just that I am easily entertained. In fact, truth be told, you have to sort of work it to keep me entertained. It’s that I appreciate laughter, accompanied by wit and charm probably over any other quality in a man. When you have the trifecta of all, it was almost always to be considered that my reasoning powers turn to oatmeal and I get fleeced.
Not literally. I’ve never loaned money, or given access to bank accounts. But emotions can be worth a helluva lot more than what is currently in my 401K.
But here is where age works in my favor; Being a magnet for the flair means I’ve seen it all. While my initial reaction may be to double take and watch the show for a moment, I look for the cracks in the veneer a little closer now. Sometimes I actually need the showman to remind me of where I’ve been, and to not be so easily entertained that I don’t see the forest thru the trees.
This is the a-typical show. Brilliance. Lots of it. That’s the smoke of the show. Lightning fast moves and talk, that keep your head spinning, and your pulse racing. That’s the mirrors of the show. In between are bits and pieces of reality, because anyone would start to get suspicious if there were only smoke and mirrors. It’s like a meal of delectable sweets, only if your smart add a bit of veggie, thrown in for good measure. But the bits are the slight of hand, and you really don’t pay too much attention, because you want more smoke and mirrors.
Today I like to think of myself as the Bullshit Detector for the Flim Flam Artist. Nobody can tell you what a sweet and dangerous high is like a reformed addict.
In my case, I’ve seen the show often enough that I know the right questions to ask, and soon I have their palms sweaty, (Can I interject to say that I can never use the term “palms sweaty” without Eminmen’s “Lose Yourself” immediately going off in my mind, with the next words “knees weak, arms are heavy..”) and stuttering to answer the questions they never expected.
I met Mr. Flim Flam last night. Not face to face. But close enough to smell the Carny bullshit on him. Laugh out loud brilliant online profile that screamed, “I’m not taking this overly serious, so here is something to make you laugh …” Which I did.
That is the bait. I’d be lieing to you to say I didn’t initially fall for it. Laughter. That’s my Heroin.
Then he made contact, and instead of going for the “You’re so (fill in the blank)” which is overdone, and makes ones eyes glaze over with boredom, he does the “jab-compliment-laugh”. Gets ‘em every time! Soon we are bantering back and forth with sarcasm and laughter and he is so happy to meet someone who can keep up with him, and for a nano-second your ego inflates enough to think you two might actually have a little chemistry.
And then you remember what you are dealing with, and bring the ego back down. You wonder why the question can’t be answered with sincerity AND laughter.
Because he’s Mr. Flim Flam, and he has a lot to hide. A LOT.
Now if he’s good, he keeps up with the show. But if he’s lazy — or has done the show so often he is walking thru it blindly, you can trip him up. (Because c’mon – who can’t trip a blind person? Ouch – Outside voice again. Yesterday it was the Catholics and today it’s the Blind. Nobody is safe here.) I got lucky and ended up with The Lazy Flim Flam
“So which pictures are recent?” I question.
“Oh I see, someone stole your profile and created a duplicate one on the site you just said was for players only. That sucks.” Says I.
“No, I get that your lack of employment is a temporary one. I don’t blame you for not wanting to drive 30 miles to that potentially new job, because no income beats a bad commute any day. “ Thinks I.
“So no charges were actually filed?” with my eyeballs popping out of my head.
“Oh you’re doing me a favor in not filling me in on the details for legal reasons? I agree, I don’t want your lawyer, who has no fucking clue who I am, to have to subpoena me either.” As I am running out the door.
This is how the evening went. It was like an ongoing Shell Game, and I had my eye on the cup and picked correctly every time. I was honestly shocked that in the end he felt we had connected so well, considering I peeled thru his layering stories faster than a rotting onion. Only I don’t think he realized what was happening, because when said with a smile in your tone, you can flip the switch on them and have them believing your bullshit too.
Ultimately I think Richard Gere said it best in the movie “Chicago”
Give ’em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle Dazzle ’em
Give ’em an act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate
Give ’em the old hocus pocus
Bead and feather ’em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?