Last Saturday, a gaggle of friends and I were on our way back from Edinburgh with a trainload of drunk rugby fiends. The inebriated despair made itself known in drunken moans and heads hung sadly over Echo Falls Rosé. The North American Scum that we are (double points if you get that reference), none of us really cared about the rugby as much as we did for escaping the bubble for a few precious hours to go shopping and lollygag with a bunch of strangers instead of the two hundred people that knew every sliver of our lives. Exhausted by all the city excitement, I face planted on the little dining table in our train cubby. I woke in Lochgelly to the screeches of a strangely discordant London accent.
“Do you need help opening that bottle? Here, give it to me” He shoved his hand across the isle, weirdly close to my personal bubble.
Squinting in delirium, I saw my friend disinclined to surrender her beer bottle to the strange little man across from us. He was bald, with the palest blue eyes I’ve ever seen lit by the fire of the zealot. I learned later that while I was passed out, he had been intruding into my friends’ conversation, giving his two cents on university life and the NHS from the perspective of a drunk English 40 year old.
Irritated within five minutes, I was about to tell him to shove off and plague another group of sitting-duck Americans, when he offered me an opportunity for mockery I just couldn’t give up.
“Look, I’m a license hypnotist. Take my card.”
He was based in Dundee, with a practice that focused on age regression (still unclear what that is), weight loss, trauma counseling, and, my personal favorite, hypno-birthing.
I should probably explain that I adore meeting weird people. It might be my penchant for selfish mockery, or that I really am fascinated by these characters, or a mixture of both. Either way, I love it, and them.
We asked him to hypnotize someone. He refused the offer of the first sacrificial lamb (uh, I mean friend). He claimed she was already hypnotized. By what, he either wouldn’t say or didn’t know. Youth culture? Television? Bad pop music? The world will never know.
He moved swiftly on to the beer-bottle friend. He said he wouldn’t hypnotize us, (trains threw off his concentration, perhaps?) but he’d do a physiology mind trick.
“Now place your hand on the table. Look into my eyes. Now, when I tell you, you’re not going to be able to pick up your hand. Why? Not because I told you not to, but because you won’t want to. Ready? One, Two, Three.”
He tried the same with me, forcing my hand and commanding the limb not to move.
After being properly mini-hypnotized, he told us about his work and life. He had seven children, the last of which was hypno-birthed, where he literally hypnotized his wife during labor. Of all of Eve’s curses, perhaps the worst would have been having that sorry man at your bedside during the process of creating life. He specialized in students, and phobias, and teaching teachers how to teach students. He was displeased to hear my mother was a psychiatrist, called psychiatry a profession that “just categorizes mental illness, and doesn’t do therapy like me” with the attitude of a condescending adult telling a child a life truth. I offered a rebuttal, but his cold, blue eyes shut me up. Maybe his best trick was showing people just how convinced he was in himself.
We got to Leuchars. We literally ran laughing from the train, leaving the hypnotist to choo-choo all the way to Dundee. In the cab, the other friend that had been hypnotized looked at me.
“The hand trick didn’t work, did it?”
“Good story, though.”
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