Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Three Truths & One Lie: Frankly Hypnotized

You know that awesome game Three Truths and A Lie wherein players profess four statements, three being factual and one being fabricated? No? Yes? Maybe? Not applicable?

This week I thought we could play it together. I will post Monday-Thursday three true stories and one tall tale, then on Friday you can vote which story you think is the fake.

Is this fun? I can't tell.

But here it goes, Story Two:





Frank was old.
I mean, for a fourth year college student. He was older than my dad for certain, possibly nearing the age of my grandfather.

His silver hair always stuck out in a carton-sized classroom of college students. Frank was tall, thin and never missed a chance to wear plaid shirts tucked in to tan Dockers. This uniform was capped off by white walking shoes which clocked in the miles spent transversing campus. Always raising his hand, making connections and asking impossible questions, Frank also stood out for being emphatic amongst his somewhat apathetic peers.

In previous lifetimes, Frank worked for the Postal Service and had a large family with a kind wife. Retirement stimulated his desire to go back to school to finish his degree in the behavior sciences. Along his former pathway, paved by experience, he'd found a deep appreciation for hypnotherapy. Having a degree in the field made Frank certain that clients would be more likely to see him in his basement office.

That basement office. It was made up of a simple oak table and an elevated bed. The room was no bigger than an average bathroom in an average home. There was no other decor, white walls, white hard flooring and a blanket on the bed the color of faded green Tupperware. On the table awaited hypno tools, metal objects meant to entrance. I know because I went there.

Frank's enthusiasm for hypnotherapy caught the attention of several teachers. Though they personally refused to give it academic accolades, the solution of Frank's age mixed with his ageless energy made them curious. He was granted several audiences by the grace of their classrooms--from Psych 110 to Behavioral Neuroscience 313. All Frank needed to do to prove the power of his therapy was give demonstrations. Only, he required a subject.

I don't know what I was thinking when I agreed. He asked me after class one day, his apparent conviction stirred me to a reluctant consent. After saying I'd meet in his basement office for a hypno-tutorial (before taking our show--ahem--on the road) I felt ill. Not only was it entirely uncomfortable to be in the basement of Frank's house alone, I wasn't sure about being the subject matter for the whole campus to watch. Why couldn't Frank ask for a male patient? Why was I the one invited? More importantly, why did I accept?

We met in the basement after I had met Frank's wife and daughter. He was really professional--even for not being a professional. After a few minutes I was relaxed and we started to talk about (surprise) my childhood as Frank spoke in a low voice.

It wasn't so bad being hypnotized. I think I may have even worked out a thing or two in my psyche. When I came back to full consciousness I was pleased to see that my clothes were still on my body and my head firmly on the flat, white pillow.

Over the course of the next week Frank and I were Houdini and Houdini's sparkling assistant. Ta da! We visited small classrooms and teleconferences all over campus. The format was always the same, he'd hypnotize me to a very surface consciousness and talk to me. It wasn't anything like you see going on in nightclubs, when hypno-comedy was all the rage. I didn't do the chicken dance or roll around smelling people's shoes. Frank was gaining popularity and I felt like a dramatic performer with a stage and a captive audience.

One of our professors asked us to visit his class of fifty plus students. When we arrived I noticed that the classroom looked more like a small arena. It reminded me of the Colosseum with hungry students waiting for their crude entertainment. Suddenly I was very nervous. On the second row was a boy I knew from high school. This induced a wave of insecurity over my being and I felt completely trapped. This was not good for cause.

Frank went ahead with his demonstration, only this time I could not be hypnotized. Feeling equally embarrassed for Frank, and devastated for my pride, I went ahead and pretended to be entranced. Something must've made Frank nervous too, because instead of the professional quality he had before, he was now asking me to sit on people's laps and sing. Every command upped the ante of the demonstration and I was a circus dog. I did whatever he asked. The audience cheered and whistled. In a grand tease, he asked me if I had any inhibitions.

"No!" I lied.

This made the audience roar with anticipation. Luckily for me, time was up. Frank showed the class how he brought me out of the relax-state, until I was back to my social conscious self. I eagerly waited for this part to be over. When the bell rang I dashed out of the room with a scarlet face and a shameful heart.

"Hey" said a voice behind me.

I turned to see the boy from high school coming towards me with raised eyebrows.

"You were faking right?" he asked.

"Yep." I replied.

"I could tell." he said as he turned his head to the side, avoiding eye-to-eye contact.

"Huh." I shrugged back.

Last I heard of Frank after graduation were of his plans to pursue a Masters of psychology. When he asked if he could call me-- should his post-graduate work call for more hypnotherapy demonstrations--I let him down easy. After all, he was old.