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Wax and Wayne
Magic-Lantern Superstars

Newark, NJ - Newark Airport. The pits. We're on our way to Charleston, SC for a performance of our Halloween Show at the Sottile Theatre, a magnificent restored historic theater in the center of town. Our new co-stars, Wax and Wayne, are with us.

Wax and Wayne are two triops, little water-bugs about a half-inch long, who travel in a thermos bottle. When I was a child I saw a drawing of a magic-lantern projecting bugs on the wall. I've wanted to try it ever since, and our Halloween Show seemed like the perfect occasion. I bought a kit to grow the triops -- strange looking creatures with three eyes that have existed since before the time of the dinosaurs -- and after several false starts, I've succeeded in raising our two acrobats.

Back to the Airport. We always cause a scene when we go through security, because we carry the lantern lenses and the slides with us, and the X-ray machines go nuts. The security man is methodically going through the lens case, which also contains Wax and Wayne's thermos.

          Or is it --

"What's this?" he demands.

"Bugs," says I.

"Nah, man. For real."

"For real bugs," says I. I unscrew the top of the jar. Wax and Wayne live in a foul smelling brown brew of their own making. You can't see a thing down there. "We carry bugs in here. Big bugs. Live ones."

"There's no bugs in there."

"Sure there are." I say. "Just stick your finger in."

"CLOSE THAT THING UP, MAN!" And we're through security.

Postscript - Wax and Wayne did not perform well in Charleston. Wayne hid out of sight in the corner of the tank slide, and Wax had such a severe case of stage fright he took a dump in the middle of his act, right there on screen. I was so disconcerted by this that after the show I forgot our stars, and left their thermos backstage. The theater manager, an animal lover, very kindly rescued them, and set them free in a South Carolina puddle. They are now giving the South Carolina palmetto bugs competition.

Postscript Two - As an experiment to see how large I could grow triops, I tried another set, which I named See and Saw. Unfortunately, Saw, the biggest, ate See for Thanksgiving dinner, right in front of my assembled grandchildren. We called him "Saucy" after that.

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Last Update: June 29, 2004
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