May 21, 2013 by kittynh
James “The Amazing” Randi has been a part of our family, along with his equally amazing partner Deyvi, for many years.
Many years ago, Randi was scheduled to give a talk at Tufts University in Boston. Our family of course volunteered to drive Mr.Randi from his hotel to the talk, and from there to a dinner afterward.
It was probably a mistake on the part of talk organizer, and long time JREF supporter, Scott Romanowski. The reasons are many. First off, our family at that time was unfamiliar with driving in Boston.
What’s the problem with driving in Boston? Well when Boston was founded, driving meant a carriage and horses. Walking was the main mode of transportation. If you were lucky you owned a horse.
We did not bring a horse to Boston, we bought a Hyundai Santa Fe, filled with myself, my husband and our two daughters Evelyn and Aynsley. We did not bring a GPS, but had a print out of general directions. If the British had only been as ill prepared as we were, Paul Revere could have taken the evening off.
We finally found the hotel where Randi was staying (it was tall, that helped). Randi came down wearing his usual cape, and had a jaunty peacock feather in his hat. Several people in the busy lobby recognized him, and those that did not looked. They could tell “this is somebody!”, and yes he is.
The second problem, was that Randi was subjected to long periods of time in a car with three Mervine women. We all piled in the car, Mark and Randi up front and the 3 women in the back. Mark is accustomed to being the only male, he’s got Stockholm Syndrome at this point. Randi however, may never have been trapped in such a small space with 3 women that are such fans. He probably knew how the Beatles felt, which is slightly deaf, from the enthusiasm and probably the occasional ear drum shattering scream coming from the back seat.
Randi finally joked, “You women have voices that are making dogs howl in the next state!” We took pity on him and toned it down. Randi then make a joke that involved killing cheerleaders, not directed at us personally (I hope), and we all then focused on finding the venue for the talk at Tufts.
The third problem is my husband’s sense if direction. My husband attended the Naval Academy. I remember he only got 82% on his navigation final. He does not remember he only got 82% on his navigation final. We drove around Boston, probably several times around Boston, and finally found the campus for Tufts. That was not good enough, we have to find out just where the talk was being given, and so then began wandering the campus until well placed signs even we couldn’t ignore ,”RANDI TALK HERE” with arrows, were found.
Randi then went into professional mode. He walked the stage, checked the microphones, look out to where the seating was. He was in the zone, no joking, no telling stories, he was as serious as I’ve ever seen him. Then satisfied, he told us he’d like some pizza. My husband, as much of a Randi groupie as his harem, took him out happily to satisfy this pre talk hunger. I stayed behind to help out where needed.
The talk was wonderful. The audience was made up of skeptics, non skeptics, magic lovers, and people that sort of knew who he was but weren’t sure. They were sure after the talk. Randi can tell a story, he captivates you right from the start. He’s the only person that I have ever sat happily quiet with, which my family considers a miracle. If they told stories like Randi, maybe I would shut up more often!
Randi also did a magic trick that blew away the audience. Even the magic fans were in awe, and for days later were chatting on the internet trying to figure out just how he did it. I’ll never tell.
Well, I’ll never tell as I have no clue how he did it either.
After the talk, it was time to take Randi dinner. Randi must have given a sigh or relief, as this was our last escort job. We would hand him off to Scott for the drive to his hotel.
The problem, we had to get to the restaurant. At this point, it was dark. I have a feeling Mark only got a 42% on the part of the test that had to do with navigation at night. The worst part, my husband turned to a couple that didn’t know where the restaurant was and said “Oh just follow us.” My daughters laughter was simply confusing to them, and I my attempts to suggest they might be better off asking a Magic 8 ball how to get there was taken as a joke. I was serious.
So through the narrow streets of Boston, birthplace of liberty, my husband engaged in freedom of speech, colorful speech, as we become more and more lost. I can’t imagine what the language was like in the vehicle following us. Randi took it all in stride. I thought “He will have yet another good story to tell after tonight.”
Randi didn’t say much, except at one point when we drove into a cemetery. Randi looked around and said “Well, I’m not eating here.” I gave my husband that LOOK, only he couldn’t see it from the back of the car. He claimed later to have felt a burning sensation on the back of his head. I think the head rest was scorched.
We all finally found the restaurant. We pulled up, Randi and the girls piled out. The car that had been following pulled up and the driver said “hey do you know we were in a cemetery?” He didn’t wait for an answer when he saw our faces.
The dinner was wonderful, Randi didn’t miss a beat charming us all with more stories. He was so polite as not a word was said about his loss of hearing from high pitched voices or being driven to a cemetery while still alive.
Our family still treasures the one time we were all together with Randi. Since then we still meet up with him, but never again as the entire group. I’m not sure any of us could survive it again!
I hope Randi has a “Being driven around Boston” story. Our family laughed about it on the way home, and has fond memories of it ever since.