by Kyle Cox
Recently, I was playing a show at a wonderful spot in Nashville, TN called Douglas Corner. It was a Wednesday night, and just before I was about to go on stage, a buddy texted me saying, “What are you doing Friday night? Do you want to go to the Ryman with me?” If you aren’t familiar with the Ryman, it’s a beautiful venue located in downtown Nashville, just off Broadway. It’s called The Mother Church of Country Music, many legends have played there & continue to play there, and the Grand Ole Opry was born out of that room. It’s truly legendary. Needless to say, if someone asks you to go to the Ryman with them, you say yes, regardless of who’s playing. So of course, I immediately responded to his text with “Hell ya! Of course, I want to go to the Ryman! Who’s playing?”
Listen to the album while reading the story.
Now before I tell you who was playing that night, let’s jump back a good bit. My mother, when she was in college was a magician’s assistant. That’s right. Magician’s, not musician’s, assistant. The kind where you get sawed in half, put back together, that sort of thing.
Obsessed with Magic
I was born in the 80’s, 1985 to be exact, but I’m a product of the 90’s, and during the 90’s, every year, right around Thanksgiving, there would be a 3-hour long special called “World’s Greatest Magic” featured on NBC. Every year, I would record these specials, watching them over & over again with my mom, while she would tell me how some of these tricks were done. “See that big box, how it looks empty?” she’d say. “Well, there’s actually a mirror placed diagonally in the box, creating the optical illusion that the box is empty, and that’s exactly where the assistant is hiding behind!” Or she’d explain, “that table they just rolled out the woman is laying on, well, it looks just 3-4 inches thick, but it’s really over a foot thick. The way they painted the table gives off the look it’s much thinner than it really is.”
I became obsessed, constantly rewinding, pausing, pressing slo-mo, all while trying to figure out exactly where the magician was keeping his secrets. So much so, that when I was in high school, I even started working at the local magic shop, turning tricks for all the neighborhood kids, as they’d say.
The Magic of College
However, when I graduated high school I moved to college, I really wanted to start dating girls, so I stopped doing magic and started writing songs. Seems to have worked out ok? Later in college, I began to date this really awesome girl, Sarah. She was over at my house, probably around midnight or so, and was just like, “Kyle; we have got to clean your room.” Now, when I was a bachelor, I was a certified slob. Since being married, I’ve really come to value a clean house through many sessions of marriage counseling; however, at the time, I was real messy. We’re talking not just clothes all over the ground, but old Chinese take-out boxes, week old cereal bowls with old milk on the nightstand, trash that hadn’t been emptied in months, you name it. So I obliged & we began cleaning up my room.
Things were really going great, and at about 30 minutes into cleaning, Sarah comes across this box packed with red silk scarves, miniature playing cards, jumbo coins, fake fingers, and all sorts of other weird stuff & stops to ask me “What is this?”
“Oh, let me show you what this is!” I exclaim.
Ring of Fire
She was particularly drawn to this flesh colored ring that had a 2-inch long tube & a flint from a lighter welded onto it. Immediately, I took the ring from her, filled the tube with flash powder (much like gunpowder but burns hotter & quicker) which of course I had on hand, slid the ring onto my finger and flicked the flint!
What was supposed to happen was a fireball, about the size of a golf ball, softball at the largest, was to shoot out of my hand about 1-2 feet.
A fireball the size of a basketball engulfed my entire hand.
Sarah was definitely impressed. However, I was unable to catch her reaction as I was sprinting to the restroom, cursing & screaming in pain.
After about 5 minutes in the bathroom running my hand under cold water, I came out, totally embarrassed & told Sarah that we have to run to a 24 hour CVS or Walgreens to grab some burn cream. It’s after midnight at this point, we hop into her car, and drive to the nearest Walgreens as quickly as we can. As we’re pulling into the parking lot, I realized the burn was much worse than I expected, didn’t even get out of the car, & asked Sarah to take me to the ER.
We arrived at the ER around 1 AM, got checked in, & was given a bedpan full of ice to stick my hand into while I waited for the doctor to see me. Finally, around 4 AM, a doctor came by to check out my hand.
Wow, this is really bad
“Wow, this is really bad,” he said, and I learned that my right hand was pretty covered in 2nd & 3rd-degree burns. He put some intense cream on it, wrapped it up, gave me some hardcore drugs & then proceed to tell me I’ll need to go see a specialist in the morning because he wasn’t quite sure if this would be able to heal fully on its own.
The next morning, we pull up to the plastic surgeon to get a better look at the burns. As he unwraps my hand, he says, “Oh wow, this is really bad.” Ya, I heard that already, this is why we are here. The doctor began to tell me he needed to take a closer look, pulled out a scalpel, & cut off all the blisters, exposing the raw nerves to my hand. It felt wonderful (that’s a lie). After removing all the blisters, he proceeds to tell me he’s not quite sure this will be able to heal on its own & there’s a possibility I’ll need to have skin grafts. New to the skin graft game, I asked him exactly how that would work.
“Well, we’d take some skin from your glute to graft onto your hand and help it heal.”
So I was about to be the guy with ass-hands for the rest of my life. Which, in some ways, I thought might be pretty funny any time I shook someone’s hand & could say “you just touched my butt.” However, we continued to monitor it & thankfully, I never needed to have skin grafting done & my hand did end up healing quite fine on its own.
Are you into Magic?
Now flash back to that Wednesday night I’m playing at Douglas Corner. My buddy texts me “what are you doing Friday night? Do you want to go to the Ryman with me?” and of course, I immediately responded to his text with “hell ya! Of course, I want to go to the Ryman! Who’s playing?” He replies, “actually, nobody is playing. However, David Blaine is performing, are you into magic?”
“AM I INTO MAGIC?! DO YOU EVEN KNOW ME?”
So of course, I went, watched David Blaine perform, & it was one of the most beautiful nights of my life.