Writing Out Loud: It’s a Smoke and Mirrors Day

By George Stahl

Okay. Finally! We can all celebrate a day together that has nothing to do with some made up holiday, nothing historical about it, and nothing political to do with it. Today, Wednesday, March 29, is the Festival of Smoke and Mirrors Day! We’ve all heard the term. It usually has something to do with illusion or the art of misdirection. It’s not exactly a lie, but it is not close enough to the truth to be called half true either. It’s somewhere in between. That place where direct questions are answered with indirect answers. Misleading? Sometimes, but never to the point of being able to be disproven, at least not in the usual sense of the word. A lie!

We have all seen those Houdini type magicians, the ones who have a wild animal in a cage on one side of the stage, and a beautiful, almost dressed woman on the other side. They put sheets up in front of them and within seconds, if the guy is really good, these two change places. Right before our very eyes. Unless the magic man is using a Star Trek transporter thingy to do the trick, it’s not real. Right? Yeah, it’s an illusion or a gag done with smoke and mirrors. So, you get the picture.

This same scenario can be done with pen and paper too. We can read something that seems like it is one thing, but then it turns out to be something we didn’t expect. Rebates are good for this, as well as those pop ups on your computer that once you access them, you find that your world has been turned upside down because someone you have never met, maybe in some far away third world country, is suddenly buying up everything the internet has to offer using your name, credit and a whole lot more personal information.

We are fed smoke and mirrors every day. When you see the not so clear image in the mirror behind the cloud of smoke, you, being a say sort of individual, simply ignore the request, enticement, or promise and delete it, erase it, turn it off. You sit back and sigh, “How can anyone fall for any of this stuff?” But they do!

We are usually a trusting sort. Humans. We take a lot of stuff around at face value. We would never think that anyone would try to trick us. Yeah, and I’ve got a seat on the first trip to Mars that I need to get rid of. I have to cancel because I have something else I’m doing on that day, and instead of wasting this extremely expensive ticket, I’m willing to part with it for a fraction on the cost. You can have it for only, $450,000. I paid considerably more, but I forgot I have a dentist appointment that morning. You’d be doing yourself and me a huge favor if you take it off of my hands. Run an ad like that and see how many offers you get. All it takes is one, and bingo! You’re rich. Just remember, there is no ticket, and you are blowing smoke, even with a few mirrors today.
By the way, did you know these wacky holiday facts? Most people don’t, but I’ll let you in on a little secret. Fact #1. Reindeer is an elve’s favorite food, and oh yeah, vice versa too. Fact #2. Every year, thousands of turkeys commit mass suicide in order to avoid the sharp edge of an ax in a shaky old farmer’s hand. Fact #3 The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre was fake news.

Now, your job is to figure out which one of those facts is an illusion, lie or smoke and mirrors. Come to think about it, I was wrong. The Festival of Smoke and Mirrors is very much a made up holiday, it has its beginnings way back in the beginnings of the country’s history and it is every bit as political as apple pie, Betsy Ross and George Washington’s white steed. Or am I just saying that to blow smoke past the mirror?