“For my next trick, I need a volunteer.” I droned in a tired voice at the apathetic audience. As expected there weren’t any forthcoming. It was the usual mix of humanity you could find at any wedding: aunties talking in loud voices – indulging in gossip, comparing their jewels and matchmaking, uncles exchanging stock tips, flirting singles, teenagers exchanging shy glances and kids running around while screaming their heads off.

I sighed and placed the pack of cards back into my tattered briefcase. Wedding audiences are the worst – the family of the boy or girl are more than often obliged to book an entertainment act for the reception because of social conventions. Little do they realize that no one pays attention to the performer. To be fair to them, such occasions are opportunities to meet their family and friends but no one cares about the singer or dancers or in my case – a magician, who would dearly love an audience willing or at least pretend to be interested in our act.

You may ask me why do I accept such shows, where the guy serving coffee captures the crowd’s interest more than I do? Well, the short answer is I’m a poor magician with very little prospects. As they say, beggars cannot be choosers. So I accept all events, any event, even one such as today’s – the wedding reception of my ex-girlfriend.

I tried once again to get at least a few bored looking outliers in the crowd interested in my next trick – the lame one involving metal hoops and failed miserably. A couple of them went toward the dining hall, a sleepy looking teenager pulled out her smartphone and started texting and one guy just started picking his nose. I had been booked for a sixty-minute show, but I was ready to throw in the towel around the twenty-minute mark. None of the six tricks I had performed so far elicited even a pity applause. I tried, in vain, for the next five minutes to engage the crowd by mixing some comedy to the rabbit out of hat trick, but that one flew like a lead balloon as well.

I was begging the audience for some silence when She came in with her groom and took their places on the stage. She was radiant in a green and gold designer dress and he looked dapper in his custom made beige Armani suit. Damn Armani, making even beige look cool. I caught my reflection in the nearby window and could only sigh in defeat. Now that the couple was the only attraction in the hall, I gave up and started packing my things.

I looked at her and caught a sad smile on her lips. It could have meant anything – sorrow, disgust, pity or even an ‘I told you so’. Even though there was a gamut of emotions cascading through me, I performed my best trick of the evening – I smiled.