Jessica Gross

Not for Beginners: Juggling Knives and Torches

In people watching on September 5, 2008 at 4:24 pm

Last night, I met a guy who moonlights as an actor, magician and juggler. I implored him to show me a trick, and he did some ridiculous thing with rubber bands. I made high-pitched squealing noises. Then I asked him all I’ve ever wondered about juggling.

This guy is legit: he juggles knives and torches and can balance a chair on his chin. What I’ve never understood is how one learns to juggle knives and torches. When you first ride a bike and start tipping to the side, you stick your foot out — or your parent or guardian (P.C.) props you back up. But if you catch the flaming side of a fire stick by mistake, you burn your skin off.

Here’s the trick. Apparently, bowling pins have about the same weight distribution as knives and torches. So you get really good at juggling bowling pins, to the point that you’d never try to grab the thick end. Then you move to sharp and flaming jugglepieces. According to my informant, jugglers are also swift enough to pull their hands away in time for a knife to fall on the floor rather than on their flesh. This is why I should never be a juggler.


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