"So, it's a trick," he asked.
"Sure, you tell me what you're going to write on your piece of paper, Greg, and I'll say that's what the first one says. And you'll say that that's what you wrote on your paper," she explained. "Then I'll open one of the other pieces of folded paper, not yours and pretend it's yours and wave it like it really says what you said you wrote on your paper."
He frowned for a moment imagining how this would work.
"But really," she went on, "I just read that paper so I can say that that's what the next one says and someone will say, yeah, that's theirs and I'll open another paper and wave it around and then read it and say that's what the next one says and so on. See?"
"That's so smart. How'd you think of it?"
"I got it out of a book," she said. "It only works if you're in cahoots with someone and I picked you 'cause I know I can trust you and you'll get a kick out of this too." She grinned.
He grinned back and nodded.
"So," she reminded him, "after everyone has filled out their papers and folded them up, you just be sure to put yours on the bottom. Okay?"
"Yeah. Everyone is going to think you can really read minds."
They both giggled like fifth graders, but then, they were fifth graders.
"Okay," she said, "tell me what you're going to write on your paper."
"Um, I'm going to write, 'Joanne, you can't really read minds, you fake.'"
She laughed. "That's good, okay. But you can't tell anyone else about us being in cahoots."
Later, at the party with eight ten year olds, three boys and five girls, Joanne announced that she could read minds and could prove it.
"It's some kind of trick," said Wally.
"No, it's not," Joanne lied. "Look everyone get a piece of paper here and write down something on it and fold it up and don't let me see it and then I'll guess, no, I'll know what's on each piece of paper before I unfold them."
Joanne had to explain again, but without mentioning the part about being in cahoots with Greg.
"It's a trick," said Wally.
"Okay," Joanne sighed. "Wally says it's a trick but will you just play the game, doofus?"
Everyone took a paper and wrote something on it and folded them up. "Put them in a pile on the table," said Joanne. The girls giggled while they did this and the boys sighed.
Greg sat beside the table where the papers were collected and waited till everyone else had put a folded paper on the pile. Then he slipped a paper on the bottom of the stack. Wally walked up late and dropped his on top of the pile. "It's a trick," he said firmly.
Joanne rolled her eyes and picked up the stack of papers, "Okay, well, I think we all know what Wally's says and it doesn't take a mind reader." Most of the kids thought that was funny. "So I'm going to shuffle up the papers," she took the stack and cut and re-cut it and restacked it so that the bottom paper was still the bottom paper.
Then she went into the routine she and Greg had rehearsed. "Okay, I'm going to read the mind of whoever wrote this first paper and tell you all what it says. If you recognize that it's what you wrote say so and tell everyone so they'll know I can read minds."
The girls giggled and the boys grinned as she hammed it up with moony, dreamy faces and strange gestures then said, "Okay, Wally, I must have got yours first after all, 'cause this one says, 'Joanne, you can't really read minds, you fake.'"
Wally frowned and shook his head. "That one's mine," said Greg.
"Okay," said Joanne, "so we have more than one skeptic in the group, but I got it right?"
"Yeah, how did you do that?" said Greg, playing the gag up.
Joanne grinned, "I'm a mind reader, how else?" She opened the paper and glanced at it, "Yup, that's what it says."
But the paper she opened was not really Greg's and it said, "I hate Mr. Armbruster." Joanne nodded and put the paper aside and picked up the next one, still folded, and went into the act again.
More giggles from the girls but this time the boys were mostly frowning, trying to work out the trick. Greg noticed and wiped the grin off his face so he could frown too.
"'I hate Mr. Armbruster,'" Joanne quoted.
Deirdre squealed, "I wrote that!"
The kids laughed, it didn't really take a mind reader to know someone was likely to write that on their paper. Mr. Armbruster was the disciplinarian Vice Principal of their school and naturally disliked.
Joanne grinned, she loved it when her games went over so well. She unfolded the paper and 'confirmed' that it had Deirdre's message inside. But actually, someone had written, "I wish I had worn a pretty dress to this party."
She put the paper aside and picked up the next one, still folded. "I'm going to read this mind, behind my back," she announced and holding the paper behind her she turned to face the wall. The kids laughed.
"This is stupid," said Wally.
"No," said Joanne. "That's not what it says, it says...." She paused dramatically, "It says, 'I wish I had worn a pretty dress to this party.'"
"That must be Holly's," said Roy.
Holly glared at him, she was his sister and the only girl at the party actually wearing a dress. The boys laughed and the girls glared at them.
Joanne turned back around. "Who wrote that one?" she asked. "If you recognize your own message, you're supposed to tell us."
No one admitted having written it. The girls all looked at each other, several of them shrugged. Joanne looked at Greg, who shrugged and looked around the room.
"Someone wrote that message," said Joanne. "They should just admit it." She looked at each of the girls but they all shook their heads. Joanne sighed, and opened the paper she held then nodded, "That's what it says," even though it didn't.
"Who's handwriting is it?" asked Sarah.
"It's printing," said Joanne and put the paper aside. "We'll know who wrote it when we finish and someone hasn't claimed a message." She took the next paper and announced, "Okay, this one is really an easy mind to read that wrote it, it says, "It's a trick. No one can read minds."
The kids laughed. "I wrote that, but somehow this is a trick," said Wally. The kids laughed louder.
Joanne continued on with the game, pretending to guess the contents of papers she had already read, until she read the last one, which really was Greg's, the one she had pretended to guess first.
"Some thing is wrong," said Joanne counting the papers. "We've got one more paper here than players." She looked at Greg. He shrugged.
"Who wrote this one?" Joanne asked the kids. "'I wish I had worn a pretty dress to this party.'"
No one confessed to having written it and finally Joanne shrugged and threw the papers away.
"It's a trick," said Wally. "That's not real mindreading, or you would know who wrote that extra paper."
"Duh," said Joanne. "If it's a trick, how did I do it?" she grinned at Greg and he smiled back because they were in cahoots.
It hadn't been that hard to slip an extra paper in the stack, thought Greg, and sometimes you had to tell everyone how you really felt even if you couldn't let them know it was you. Even if you had to be in cahoots with yourself.