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scott c virtes

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The Soup Trick
By scott c virtes
Monday, September 08, 2003

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A glimpse of the ritual magic of everyday life, as demonstrated by a pair of hopeless knuckleheads.

Tom Kenner was playing with a mess of soup when his roommate Irv came home from work. Irv came through the front door, tossed his briefcase and jacket in the chair by the door, and watched them tumble onto the carpet in a heap. Then he shrugged and looked at Tom, who was sitting on the barstool at the counter, playing intently with his soup.

Tom belched and headed for the fridge. Apparently the belch had lowered his beer ratio below acceptable levels. He fumbled around in the fridge and pulled out a Michelob. When he turned to tell Tom how lame his day had been, he did a double-take.

"Dammit, man, use a bowl!" he snapped.

Tom looked up from his strange experiment. "What're you, slob of the week? Throwing your stuff all over the living room?"

"Yeah, well look at you, with soup dumped all over the counter. What's that all about? And why is it so damned green?"

"Split pea," Tom muttered. He had arranged the spill in a vaguely rectangular mass, and was poking at the corners, trying to get them square.

"Split pea, huh? That explains the whole deal."

Tom was getting frustrated, and took a break from his labor. "Look, the book recommended split pea. Said it was the easiest soup to fold."

Book? FOLD? All Irv could say was, "Uhhhh?"

A small hardback book was propped up against the toaster, opened to a chapter which sure enough said, "How to Fold Soup."

Irv twisted the top off his beer, and some of the flesh of his fingers went with it. He tilted the bottle at his nutty friend. "Your occult studies have gone too far."

Tom was about to rub his weary eyes, then noticed his fingers were covered with pea. "One of my friends on the Internet recommended this experiment, to test my mana."

"Your manners?"

"Ha ha. Good one."

"Your manhood?"

"You can shut up now."

"Hmph. Lemme see that book." Irv moved around behind Tom to grab the tiny tome.

Tom said, "Written by some freaky looking guy. It's all very cryptic."

By then, Irv had grabbed the book, and Tom couldn't stop him without getting soup glop on the precious volume.

Irv looked at the cover and burst into laughter.

Tom said, "I told you the guy was freaky looking."

Irv showed Tom the cover. "Freaky-looking, my ass. Well, yeah, sort of. This is Steve Martin."

Tom sat there, holding his hands like a surgeon who had just operated on an alien. A piece of crushed pea dripped down onto the carpet. "So?"

Irv choked on his laughter, then caught his breath. Another swig of beer helped. "Steve Martin the comedian. The Lonely Guy. Saturday Night Live. I thought the soup thing sounded familiar."

Tom was getting irritated. "You know I don't watch TV."

Irv slapped the book down on the counter, narrowly missing the green abomination. "You jackass, this is a book of comedy. Jokes. Gags. Skits. Nobody could take it seriously. He's no wizard, he's just The Jerk. He thought he was somebody because his name was printed in the phonebook."

Tom blinked. It wasn't sinking in.

Irv took another swig. Refreshing, after a long day. "Only you could take it seriously. That online guy put one over on you. A good one. You're such a sucker."

"Screw you. Now, would you open the book to page 12 for me? I want to get this finished." He turned his back on his insulting roommate.

"Okay, fine." Irv couldn't believe it. Tom had no trace of a sense of humor, and no common sense either. Irv fumbled through the book, found the right page, and started reading. "The proper way to fold soup is to start with the corners ..."

Tom's relief was tangible. "I've been trying, but first of all, soup doesn't have corners in its natural state."

Irv took another drink then put down his beer bottle. "I'll show you how stupid you are. You know why you can't do it, right?"

"Oh, I'm sure you'll tell me."

"Yes I will. You'll never do it, because you're too damn serious. This is comic magic, not the sort of dry arcane crap you're into. Behold." He reached around Tom and grabbed the top corners of the soup. He lifted the corners up off the counter with no effort. He brought the top corners together, then did the same for the bottom corners. The green slop ran a bit, and almost fell apart, but then the first fold was complete. He folded it three more times, put it into Tom's shirt pocket, and slapped the pocket hard.


Irv picked up his beer and headed for the sofa. "Damn serious people," he cussed. "Laughter is the only real source of magic."

=== END ===

published in Planet Relish #20 (July 2001)

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Reviewed by Carvin Wallson 8/21/2009
Magic, defying logic and proud of it, can be the answer for anything. It can completely replace physics, if we would like it to. Why do objects dropped from buildings accelerate at 9.8 m/s/s? Wizards!
Reviewed by John Bushore 9/30/2006
I LOVED it. Short, to the point and weird. Ain't ya sad that Planet Relish folded? It was one of my favorite and it had FEGHOOTS!

Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 9/8/2003
surprising how dumb some people really are, isn't it?? good write, though; enjoyed! (((HUGS))) and love, your texas friend, karen lynn. :D

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