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Have you ever wanted something really badly? In the back of my Boy's Life magazine, there was an ad from the Johnson Smith Company for all kinds of amazing gadgets and novelties designed to grab a boy's interest. The ad was filled with wonderful items like spy cameras, X-ray glasses, insect-eating plants, plastic dog poop, garlic-flavored chewing gum, and-best of all-magic tricks.
Man, did I love magic tricks. The ad said one trick would allow me to pull money out of the air with my bare hands. I'd seen a magician on television use the trick to fill buckets with half dollars-that was the trick I had to have! For just $1.50, plus another $1 for shipping and handling, I'd be able to make unlimited amounts of cash. I showed the ad to my father, who wasn't nearly as enthusiastic as I was.
"Mark, this is all hype," he warned. "You won't be able to make real money. It's a trick."
But I knew my father was wrong. So I counted $2.50 from my piggy bank (which literally was a pig-shaped bank), handed it to my dad, and asked him to write out a check to send in with my order.
Day after day I waited for the mail carrier to arrive. How big would the box be? I wondered. How much money would I be able to make? At night I dreamed of wearing a tuxedo as I stood in front of my first grade class, pulled money out of the air, and impressed all the girls with my suave performance (not to mention my money-making potential). I also dreamed of taking my family on great vacations and being asked to perform on television.
This was the life-changing event I'd been waiting for. My package couldn't arrive fast enough! Why, oh why, did I have to wait six to eight weeks for delivery?
Finally, the big day arrived. I checked the mailbox and found a box with my name on it from the Johnson Smith Company. The box was smaller than I'd expected, but that didn't faze me. I was moments away from turning my life around. I ran up to my room and opened the red, white, and blue box with the EZ-Magic logo on the front. Inside the box I found ... a plastic coin. It was the size of a quarter, and there was a piece of double-stick tape on the back.
I read the directions:
Step 1: Remove the backing from the double-stick tape.
Step 2: Attach the coin to the back of your thumbnail.
Step 3: With your hand palm open to the audience, reach into the air as if picking something from it; this motion will reveal the coin.
Step 4: Pretend to put it into a container in which you have already placed several coins.
Step 5: Repeat, and then pour out the coins for others to examine. Real money from the air!
Remember, practice makes perfect and shhhh! Never reveal the secret.
I threw the box against the wall. Money didn't come from the air! It was a con!
My dad used the experience to teach me a lesson that I didn't fully learn until I was much older: If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Excerpted from Wisdom On ... Time and Money by Mark Matlock
Copyright © 2008 by Mark Matlock. Excerpted by permission.
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