It's happened many times during my time as a professional magician. I'm strolling among the guests, deck of cards in hand, when I approach that one individual who doesn't seem to be interested. They either flat out refuse or say something like 'Show my friend, I'll watch.'
My attempts to get them to change their minds has varied over the years, sometimes successful sometimes not, but there's one question I never think to ask at the time ...
I suppose I can anticipate the answer I would get, something like a vacant 'Don't feel like it' or a lazy shrug of the shoulders. But some have given their opinions on this.
One opinion is a simple misunderstanding of what magic is and why I'm there. Some people may think that all forms of magic are a scam and I am there to swindle them out of their money.
For some other people it could be a matter of pride. Admittedly, nobody likes to feel like they're stupid (of all people, I totally understand that!) and they may feel that being 'fooled' by a magician will humiliate them and show them up in front of their friends.
Others say that there are those who just want to know how it's done. They're not interested in being shown a trick, but they want to see me perform to someone else so they can watch and try to work it out. Then, of course, they have to blurt it out to the whole crowd.
Do you think magic is a scam? Well, I suppose I can understand why you would think that. Magic skills can, unfortunately, be used in such a way as to scam people out of their money. My skills, however, are there simply because I fell completely in love with this art form and wanted to become a magician so I could share it with you. When I'm performing, it is never my goal or intention to scam anyone with what I do. I am there to entertain you and to share my love of magic with you.
Are you scared that I might make you look and feel stupid in front of everybody and that I will delight in 'fooling' you? Well, you can use the term 'fool' if you like, as in 'Penn & Teller: Fool Us' for example, but I never associate that word with what I do or with what any magician does for that matter.
Whatever the reason, let me just clear something up here and now. As far as I'm concerned, Magic is a beautiful art form - one of the oldest art forms that exists, going back to Ancient Egypt - and I am at your event for one very simple reason, to entertain. I am not there to scam you. I am not there to fool you. I am there to entertain you.
So, the next time you are approached by a magician, try not to feel intimidated by them. Let them show you a trick. Don't hide, don't analyse. Don't be scared of magic, it's just entertainment. Who knows, maybe you'll be so enthralled you might become a magician yourself. I was ... and I did :)