Mike Senatore says he knows his fame will only last three or four more days, but man, this is fun.
Throughout the hallways of Ardrey Kell and across the Internet, Senatore is now known as the guy who flipped the water bottle.
Senatore, 18, was participating in the senior talent show Tuesday morning when he showed off his talent that would eventually melt the Internet. Beautiful in its simplicity, Senatore crept up to a table on stage, calmly flipped a partially full water bottle, landed it upright on the table and walked away.
— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) May 25, 2016
There are multiple videos taken from different angles that have spread across the internet, so it’s impossible to know exactly how many times his trick has been viewed. A conservative estimate would be 100,000 times, but a young man standing in Ardrey Kell’s front office scoffed when I said that.
“More like hundreds of thousands,” he said.
When I met Senatore on Wednesday, he shook my hand and took me to the auditorium where he became famous.
“All I wanted to do was flip a bottle,” Senatore said.
The bottle-flipping started last year during a chemistry class.
Bored, Senatore flipped a bottle and landed it upright. He didn’t know he could actually do that.
So that continued. When things are slow at the Auto Bell where he works, he’ll flip bottles to keep his mind busy.
Once, he said, he flipped a bottle and got it to land upright 30 straight times.
The stage is set
The talent show started around 9 a.m. and about eight people went before Senatore. The person before him played the guitar so well that most of the 650 students in the auditorium had their phone’s flashlight on, waving them in the air like fans at a concert.
When it was his turn, he queued up Jorge Quintero’s 300 Violin Orchestra, plugged in the auxiliary cord and went to stage left.
He crept toward the middle of the stage, but he thought he was going too quickly.
“I’m running to the table and realizing … I’m getting there way too fast,” he said. “So I turn a little, and then I realize I’m still going to get there way too fast.”
If you didn’t know the story, you’d think Senatore was a master showman. Any illusionist knows the buildup to a card trick is as important as, if not more than, the trick itself.
Senatore’s back-and-forth, matched up to the building beat, adds to the anticipation. He gets in position but realizes he’s too far away so he steps up. He stands tall. He flips the bottle in the quiet and it lands upright.
— Wes (@WesleyManning6) May 24, 2016
“At that point I couldn’t tell you what I was thinking,” Senatore said.
An eruption happens around him. Students are going crazy. Principal Switzer is at the top of the auditorium high-fiving students. Senatore walked off the stage with a finger in the air, and once behind the curtain gave several fist pumps.
“Oh I was freaking out,” Senatore said. “I didn’t expect the reaction.”
How did he do it?
First, know this: You can’t just flip any old bottle.
“I can flip most bottles,” Senatore said, “but if I’m going to flip it and feel confident about it, it’s going to be Deer Park.”
The 16.9-ounce Deer Park water bottles have an hourglass-like shape to them. Senatore counts to what he calls the “third divot” in the bottle, below the bottle’s hourglass indentations and fills the water to there.
A full bottle will be too hard and just bounce around. An empty bottle will be too light and flutter.
But get it to the third divot and you’re money.
— CharlotteFive (@Charlotte_Five) May 25, 2016
Photo: Jonathan Jones