Afterward Lucas estimated his assists at "seven or eight"—but he may have erred on purpose rather than sound overly stat-conscious. He was seated in the Knick dressing room holding ice packs to his battered knees, long a postgame ritual. Around him pressed the Knick ballboys, one of whom suddenly called, "Hey, Jerry—instantaneously."
Lucas did not blink as he rattled it off. "A-a-e-i-l-n-n-n-o-s-s-t-t-u-y."
Harry Lorayne sat in the living room of his Greenwich Village brownstone contemplating the act that he and Jerry Lucas were to put on at an upcoming trade show. Lorayne, a peppy man in a brown turtleneck and khaki suit, felt that reference should be made early on to the fact that he, at 5'6", was more than a foot shorter than Lucas. "I'll say, 'Jerry and I go to extremes,' " he said. "Or I might tell the audience how I went to a Polish dietician and lost height."
The team of Lucas & Lorayne was formed after the taller member had sought out the shorter. Lucas had read Lorayne's books, including How to Develop a Super-Power Memory, and he was familiar with the act in which Lorayne circulates through an audience, meeting 500 or more strangers, then recalls every name. Lorayne also runs a memory school in New York's Roosevelt Hotel, teaching students to remember gin rummy discards, stock-tape symbols and other information of value.
Having found themselves to be "on the same wavelength," Lucas and Lorayne now envision not only a chain of campus-based memory schools, but a series of jointly authored memory books. Lorayne brings to their union show-biz experience, Lucas an access to the media he sometimes exploits with zeal. Invited onto the Tonight Show last spring to discuss the Knicks' championship win, Lucas was bleeped when he brazenly tried to tell the world that he and Lorayne could be reached c/o Lorayne's agent in the Empire State Building. For their act, which they have tailored to business seminars and college lectures, the partners talk of making a standing offer of $100,000 to anybody who can beat Lucas at alphabetical spelling. As for Lorayne's talents, he was happy to display them there in his living room. He began by inviting guests to grill him on the contents of a magazine that, he said, he had bought only that morning. The mere mention of a page number evoked, from memory, Lorayne's recitation of exactly what was on the page: headlines, author's name, picture captions. His recall was total except for the name of the magazine, which he kept calling SPORTS ILLUSTRATION.
Jerry Lucas meanwhile was working on a beer—he drinks his with ice cubes—and nodding approvingly. When Lorayne launched into a memory trick involving numbered squares, Lucas whispered, "Watch this one, it's incredible!" Lorayne does card tricks, too, and with them came another Lucas aside: "You're watching the best now." Lucas also deferred to Lorayne, as Plato to Socrates, when the subject turned to the athlete's memorization of the Manhattan telephone directory.
Lucas admits that he undertook this feat for publicity. What he memorized, specifically, was the first column on each of the phone book's first 500 pages—50,000 entries. He studied on Knick road trips, concealing ripped-out pages in magazines. "Can you imagine the team's reaction if they saw me reading the phone book?" he asks. Then came a press conference at which Lucas pretended to be directory assistance, only without the inconvenience of having to look up any numbers.
But now, in his living room, Harry Lorayne was saying, "The phone book thing was too strong, Jerry. You've got to be human, not a machine."
"You're right," Lucas replied. "The thing was too strong."
It was Lorayne's evening, although Lucas unavoidably shone when it became necessary at one point to return a couple of books to a high shelf. It was Lucas, too, who solved the mystery of a thumping noise that briefly sounded in the living room. It was unclear whether the phantom sound—probably a neighbor hammering nails—had come from either of the adjacent buildings or from the tenant who rented Lorayne's basement.