Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tale of the Hypno-Coin

If you've read Wallowers in Hyperbole, you'll know that I help moderate a Yahoo! group that basically deals with two subjects—politics and hypnosis (which actually do go together, still). We're preparing for some major changes in that group, which has me thinking back over the almost 10 years or so I've been involved with it in some form or another. And one of the best discussions threads we ever had involved everyone sharing their first experience with hypnosis.

I was about eight years old, and I was the hypnotist. I'd bought one of those little hypno-coin spirals out of the back of a comic book, the ads of which were full of crap-tacular wonders to turn the eye of any boy too young to know better. Sure, the sea monkeys never did build that amazing underwater castle, or really do much of anything except die after three days. Sure, the blueprints for building your own robot turned out to be for nothing more than a cardboard box you could put on like a costume. Sure, the hovercraft you could build at home with a vacuum cleaner engine meant having to explain what you were doing when your mother found you tearing apart the old Kirby upright. But I was young, and I absolutely believed that it would work. Even the disappointment of those x-ray glasses not really showing me the neighborhood baby-sitter's underwear couldn't shake my faith in the hypno-coin. Or in what I could pull off if I just did what I saw on television.

So I convinced two of my cousins to try it out with me at our grandmother's house. And I got my seven-year-old cousin into a trance, too, with her left arm floating up on its own, way up over her head.

Then I freaked.

Suddenly, this was real real, not just something I believed was real. I shouted a certain shocked, four-letter expletive for the first time in my young life, which of course brought my cousin straight out of trance. She gazed up at her arm above her head, and her eyes went wide, and then she started screaming. Which of course set off my six-year-old cousin, who had been watching all the while.

Two screaming kids, and me shouting "expletive! expletive! i am so dead! expletive!" And then all three of us scattering like rats throughout the house to find a hiding place, as our grandparents shouted "What's going on up there?!" and stomped around downstairs with those slow, heavy footsteps that only a couple of seventy-year-olds can make.

The seven-year-old and I kept up a brave, united front once we were found, but the six-year-old ratted us out. And my hypno-coin was taken away, never to be seen again.

Years later, after my grandfather had died and as my grandmother was moving into a nursing home, my mother and I went through that house from top to bottom. We had to figure out what to send with her and what to store, what to donate and what to throw away, but I found myself looking for the hypno-coin. As we found one hidden stash after another of tens and twenties and even fifties—neither grandparent really trusted the other, so each would hide their money (so the other wouldn't steal it), then forget they had ever hidden it, and then blame the other for stealing it—so I knew the hypno-coin had to still be there, somewhere. We found letters, photographs, insurance policies, Sears catalogs from a decade before, half-finished bird houses, and still more tens and twenties and even fifties, but no hypno-coin.

I miss that little piece of crap. I wish I still had it.