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Out of a Hat

Barbara Bensoussan

Marc Garfinkel can make coins jump, guess the birthday of your daughter (whom he has never met), and filch the watch off your wrist. It’s all part of the repertoire of a magician and mentalist from Brooklyn whose hand is quicker than your eye.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

There’s a loud knock at the door. “I’m here!” announces a resonant baritone. I open the door, and master magician Marc Garfinkel sweeps into my front hall dragging a black rolling suitcase with one hand and a briefcase with the other. He stoops a little as he enters the living room, as if his six-foot frame might have to clear the threshold. At age 30, Marc still has something of a boyish look, with cropped blond hair and funky glasses with acid-green earpieces. We’ve barely exchanged a few pleasantries when he fishes a few dollar bills out of his pocket. “You wouldn’t mind giving a little more tzedakah, right?” he says, handing my son four dollar bills to count.Marc then takes the bills back, folds them again, and gives them back to my son — except that this time they’re not four $1 bills, but four $100 bills. My son and I look and each other. “Huh?” we think. How’d he do that? A couple of other family members wander in to see what the excitement is about.Marc launches into a demonstration of mentalism: He asks me to think of a person who’s important to me. I consider a moment, then silently choose the daughter who’s away in seminary. “Older or younger?” he asks, looking at me, then decides: “younger.” “Male or female?” He answers for me: “female.” Then he asks if she is family or friend, and answers that one on his own as well. He takes a business card out of his pocket, the back of which is scattered with various handwritten letters, and passes over the scribbles with a lighter. As the flame scans over the jumble, they disappear until only six letters are left… spelling out my daughter’s name! We all look at each other, astonished.

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