Disclaimer: “Stranger Things” spoilers ahead.
When I told my mother I helped deliver a baby, she exclaimed her concerns in sheer disbelief Ñ How could I have run into a struggling pregnant woman on campus? How thrilling the situation must have been? And more importantly how could anyone have been so helpless that they had to ask me for assistance? Upon explaining that it was a part of a hypnotist show, she sighed with relief. I don’t know what I’d call more surprising: my mother believing my utterly impeccable story, or my mind and body both giving in to the words of another human being.
When I heard that hypnotist Dale K was revisiting our campus for Orientation, my excitement skyrocketed. Needless to say, I got to the theatre a good 45 minutes before doors opened for the audience, and managed to grab front row seats with my friends. Before starting, he warmed us up with rounds of laughter as his head grew bigger and then smaller after hypnotizing the entire audience. He later asked for volunteers from the crowd, and I happened to be one of the (lucky) few.
I was told that I was the first one to comply to Dale’s instructions as he put the long line of volunteers to “sleep”. When I later watched videos of the show, it was incredible to see how my body functioned under hypnotism. If I were to describe my experience of being hypnotized, I’d just call it absurd. Absurd in a sense that the show was full of great laughs: whether it was holding a balloon in one hand and a sandbag on the other, playing violin for a full-house orchestra, protecting my pay from pickpockets by putting them inside my shoes, getting a great tan at the beach, shivering under the same conditions, acting as midwife to a man who was giving birth, petting my hippo or simply watching other volunteers react under other conditions. Absurd also in a sense that I knew I had full control over my body and didn’t at the same time. It was an incredible experience considering the fact that I knew, in the back of my head, that men cannot give birth, that there was no way a tie could act as a snake from “Harry Potter”, and that I’d almost forgotten how to spell my own name. Post-performance, it felt like I was in a parallel universe: almost like the one from Stranger Things sans the monsters, but still equally confusing and mind boggling. When I left the theatre that night, something felt very weird because I remember being on stage, I remember seeing the audience, I remember sitting on a chair, but I also remember not remembering anything while the act was taking place. Watching your body comply to things you wouldn’t normally do whilst still having full control over it is something that is incredibly complex to explain and incredibly great to experience.