Last weekend, I was the most watched person on the Internet. Over 35 million people spent a minute with me while I did a trick at Harry’s Plaza Café during lunch. The lunch was with two recent UCSB graduates, Jonathan Redrow and Kate Zamudio. We were meeting about the work they’d done with me for a public service program for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
During lunch, I did something that made them laugh, and they asked if they could begin taping me. Being a natural ham, I obliged by showing them my silverware “trick.” It’s quite simple.
First, place a napkin on the table. Next, gently place a knife, fork, and spoon onto the napkin. Wrap the three utensils into the napkin and hold it up with two hands. Ask the person across from you to feel the napkin to ascertain that the cutlery is still inside. Next, take the napkin and briskly fling it backwards over your head. Finally, show the empty napkin to your amazed guests with a triumphant “ta-da!” (WARNING: It’s always a good idea to check if anyone’s in the booth behind you before you do this trick.)
The next evening, Jonathan and Kate placed my tape on both TikTok and Instagram. Within an hour, they called to inform me that we had over 1,000 hits. An hour later, it was up to 5,000, then 10,000, then 70,000, and, before I went to bed, we were close to 100,000 hits.
The next morning, because I still didn’t know how to log on to the site on my own, I called Jonathan. He breathlessly told me that we now had over one million hits. Within an hour he called back to say we were at two million, then five, then 10, then 20! I had gone viral.
Why this trick had become a sensation is beyond me. Each day thousands and thousands of posts are put on these sites. That day, mine had become the most watched program on their platforms. Soon friends were calling me. Their kids had seen it. What was I doing?
By that afternoon, I was officially anointed “TikTok Grandpa.” Comments posted on the site were no help to me in figuring out why it was such a success. Some people wrote about their justifiable concern of knives flying into unsuspecting patrons behind me. Others wrote that if I were their kid and did this, they’d ground me. Most of the comments, however, were very positive. “Grandpa David is a forking legend!” wrote Paul from Australia. “That guy has balls the size of Watermelons,” wrote a young lass from Florida. “This man has single handedly restored my faith in old people.” Said another one: “Now I’m looking forward to getting old.”
I’m not much of a social media person. I never go on Facebook, never send chat messages, and wouldn’t know what was “hot” on the net even if it bit me on the ass. Which is exactly what it did. Suddenly, I was being contacted by friends and family that I hadn’t spoken to during the entire COVID shutdown. I was famous. Not for 15 minutes, but for as long as I stayed posted.
My ex-wife contacted me and reminded me that I would often do the trick in fancy restaurants simply to annoy her. She was right. Many of my friends over the years had, with mixed reactions, seen me perform it at their dinner parties.
The most interesting response I got was from my preteen granddaughters. It made absolutely no sense to them. Who was this man that suddenly their friends are watching him? What was I doing in their world? When I finally spoke to them, we were all a bit overwhelmed. They were both a bit scandalized, but also proud of what had happened.
Monday I went back to Harry’s to assess the damage. I sat with Dave, the manager, and did the trick for him. After a moment of silence, he smiled and held out his fist for a fist-bump. I could still eat at Harry’s. I then walked over to Gelson’s to pick up some groceries. A bunch of the employees had seen my tape. I was surrounded by admirers who wanted to be with me simply because I had made them and 35 million+ other humans laugh. It was like being a rock star.
As I walked back to my car, I decided that this is now what I want to be when I grow up.
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