It all started in 1990 when I met this kid in my freshman English class named Apollo. He was constantly practicing slight of hand magic and I was fascinated. I would spend hours watching him with his talent and I would desperately want to be able to do the same. The only problem was I didn’t want to put in the hours upon hours of work he’d invest to find the most natural, seamless motions to make the quarter disappear or card change from a 7 of Diamonds to an Ace of Hearts.
I remember after high school was over going into a TGI Fridays one night and seeing Apollo there. He was doing table magic in the restaurant. He saw me walk in and came up to say hello. We talked for a few minutes. I asked him what he was up to and he said he was learning to steal watches.
I’ll let that sit there for a second.
Because he let it sit there for a second when he told me all those years ago.
I remember thinking, “Did my friend just confess to me that he’s learning to be an actual thief?”
I was meeting some friends in the bar for a drink before we all went to see a local group play later that evening. Apollo said, “I’ll tell you what. I’ll show you what I mean. Just go over to your party and hang there. When I come over watch the guy on the end. I will take his watch. Just please, please please don’t make it obvious that you are watching his wrist.”
I’m paraphrasing of course. I don’t remember the exact words spoken. It was the late nineties. I’ve slept since then.
A little later Apollo approached our table and began to do his thing.
Now, keep in mind, I was watching him try to take this friend of mine’s watch. I was also trying to NOT watch him to the point people would notice I was watching the watch… Make sense? Good.
Also keep in mind what Apollo had told me earlier. “I’m learning to steal people’s watches.”
That said, it was not happening fast. I watched as he went through several slight of hand tricks as he fumbled to get the watch off. Yet, the entire time he fussed with it, he did so with confidence and poise. He never lost track of the audience, his patter that went with the slight of hand tricks used to mask the real trick of stealing the watch… All of it was done with an air of expertise and a kind of fake it ’til you make it composure.
He got the watch. Then asked the guy for the time. It was only after showing the watch on his own wrist did my other friend notice his watch was gone! It was brilliant. It is truly a moment I have recounted hundreds of times over the years in a sort of “I remember when…” kind of presentation.
A few years ago we got reacquainted… How? Yep, you guessed it… Facebook. It has been great to keep track of Apollo’s goings on. It’s been equally great to get to know, if only by reading and by photos, the love of his life. She is a beautifully intelligent artist whom I look forward to giving crazy love to on another occasion.
Today though, I give my #thisiscrazylove to Apollo Robbins? And as a gift he will be unable to steal it.