We almost got kicked out of a restaurant over a magic trick. My nephew is in town, interviewing for med school, and on Saturday we took him and the kids to a nice restaurant. It's not the sort of place that you take kids to, but my youngest is almost 10, and all my kids behave decently in public. They save their bad behavior for when we're at home. Lucky me.
Anyway, Mr. McP, age 9, has lately become interested in magic tricks and even shows a talent for it. He has been mastering a series of tricks in which he makes a small red light appear and disappear. For example, he will pretend to swallow the light, and then make it come out of his ear. There are a million clever red light tricks, which you can see for yourself if you visit youtube.
So, they seated our table of seven people at a long banquette along the back wall on the upper floor of the restaurant. While we waited for someone to take our drink order Mr. McP took out his red light and went through his repertoire of tricks, one of which involved "inhaling" the red light through his mouth. My nephew has also become good at red light tricks and he and Mr. McP quietly pretended to throw the red light back and forth at each other across the table. Then Jon got involved, and he also started inhaling the red light and then producing it from out of his pocket. The red light is great fun! I swear we weren't making any undo noise, and it didn't seem to me that we could be disturbing other diners. Indeed, a woman sitting behind us was so spellbound, she ceased listening to her companion and stared at us almost continuously, her mouth agape.
Then I noticed the hostess ascend the stairs and give us a hard stare from across the room. She strode purposefully, and, it seemed to me, somewhat angrily, toward us. I couldn't imagine what the trouble was but it was obvious she was extremely displeased with our table. At this point, Mr. McP was giving his red light a rest and we were all engaged in innocent conversation. The hostess stopped behind our table--Jon, Mad Scientist and my nephew had their backs to her and did not notice her--and she paced back and forth a few times, raking our table with a hard, angry gaze. We had made reservations, but I began to worry that we'd been given the wrong table and were going to be asked to leave. I was just about to ask her if there was a problem, when she signaled something to our server and stalked away.
The incident bothered me throughout the meal, and I decided the hostess was a meanypants who objected to people who bring children to restaurants, or that she had taken it into her head that we were not cool enough for this place, or something along those lines. Mr. McP began his tricks again, when the answer dawned on me. Someone had seen the red light and had assumed we were smoking! I can see how this could happen, especially since part of the trick involved inhaling the red light through the mouth. Still, the absence of the sight or smell of smoke might have been a clue. And the fact that it was a nine year old boy doing most of the "smoking."