Completely exhausted after an entire day spent in airports and on airplanes, I arrived in Phoenix yesterday and promptly got a cab to the Scottsdale Circle K, where I bought a luxurious dinner consisting of a Lunchable, a Diet Coke, and a free hot dog courtesy of the cashier, who felt so bad for me with my tired eyes and inability to score any food at that hour that doesn't come in a sectioned-off plastic container filled with neon-yellow cheese, turkey in small circular shapes, and more crackers than anything else. He asked me where I'd come in from, and I told him Queens. He happened to have lived in Astoria for a while, he said, so we had a nice little chat about the borough and the City and then the cab brought me back to the resort (which is nice enough for my standards which are admittedly low, but a bit dingy in the rooms and could use some new wallpaper honestly) where I promptly fell out before today's business of registering the arriving participants, sucking down cup upon cup of coffee, and stuffing my face with six pound slices of cheesecake and shrimp sandwiches. Arizona is unique and beautiful and I hope that while I'm here I have a chance to get out into it a bit, soak up some of the dry 95 degree days, and I'm silently threatening to even put on my box-cut swim trunks and lay out at the pool. But in the meantime my stomach is turning in knots because I am, as usual, terrified of the public speaking effort that I will have to put forth in my little workshop on Thursday and Friday. By the way, I can already tell that by Saturday I am going to be so sick of the desert theme, particularly the color topaz, that I may go insane. But I will accept topaz and desert motifs till the cows come home, because the sky is blue, the weather is nice, and everything just feels so clean.
The cab driver was a character. He was an older man from Poland with longish silver hair and a gigantic mustache. He had lived in New York for a while too, where he was a magician's assistant, which I could totally see. I asked him if he learned any tricks, and he said, no, he just mostly did the music for the shows, and I said, well that's magic enough, isn't it?
The magician used to order these special butterflies from South America. They would pop out of the end of his wand – as if by magic, naturally – and fly off. The cab driver was in charge of the butterflies, but one time the butterfly that was to pop out next was injured somehow in transit. The cab driver had tried to tell the magician that it was a bad idea to do the butterfly bit that night, but in a panic the magician insisted the show would go on as planned. So when the butterfly bit came to pass, the little butterfly popped out of the wand, fluttered it's little wings for a lift off…and then dropped to the floor, dead.
Ain't no magic gonna revive that dead butterfly, and he was laughing while he was recalling this, but wanted me to be sure to understand that at the time it was horrific. The magician was more upset about the 25 bucks he wasted on some dead butterfly than he was about his magical powers being exposed and the show being ruined.
I do not have any butterflies involved in my presentation this week, and there is no magic to PowerPoint and talking-point memorization. So I think I'm good. What could go wrong?