I bend the dented aluminum can back and forth. The repetitive motion creates a hinge in the middle of the can and it begins to weaken. Slowly a tattered tear becomes apparent in the wall of the can. With a quick pull, the aluminum can starts to rip apart. The tattered can exposes sharp aluminum edges. With a firm grasp, I give the can a final pull and it lies in pieces.
As a child, many aluminum cans came to their demise at my hands. Unafraid of a cut, scrape, or slicing off a finger, I shredded cans, using screwdrivers as a pry bar while using my vice-like hand grip to secure the object. Cuts, scraps, and gouges were and still are a testimonial for people who work with their hands.
Yet, for me my hands are vital to my economic stability. Cuts, torn or damaged ligaments, or a fractured finger can put a balloon entertainer out of business. My superman abilities of tearing an aluminum can in half has been halted by the reality that I can accidentally rip open the palm of my hand and put me on the sidelines for months.
A good friend, Roger Siegel, perfected the one-handed balloon poodle. It was not showing off or a part of his act. It was due to the simple fact that he broke his right arm and needed to make a living. Roger mastered the one-handed balloon poodle and since then entertainers have duplicated this skill, but more for show then necessity.
The fear of injury does make me slow down when it comes to certain jobs around the house. I may be quick witted when it comes to entertaining, but when it comes to working with tools, I use caution.
I am not the only entertainer who has worries about their body parts. Lloyd’s of London has insured the legs of Fred Astaire, Betty Grable and Angie Dickinson, the taste buds of restaurateur Egon Ronay, and actor Ken Dodd’s teeth. Tiger Woods’ caddy has a policy to protect against Wood’s early death, and magicians Siegfried and Roy filed a claim on their policy when Roy was mauled by their tiger.
It would be a luxury to have thousands of dollars to insure my hands and guarantee my family security if something happened to them, but I do not have that comfort. All I can do is be careful, avoid reckless actions, and treat my hands with care.