The Power of Suggestion
Nic was flattered to be invited to the Osserman's Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary party held in the family's backyard, complete with a caterer, rented tables and chairs, and a small orchestra. Nic didn't get back to the old neighborhood much now that his parents had downsized and sold the family homestead and he didn't see the old neighborhood gang that much anymore either given that they had gone their separate ways in adulthood.
But most of the main cast was back for the celebration, including the five Osserman kids (Jack, June, Jimmy, Jon and Julie). Nic and Jon were good friends growing up but the three older Osserman siblings were kind of off Nic's radar although he definitely knew, remembered and liked Jon's kid sister Julie, who was known as Poochie in her youth.
Nic's parents and two siblings were also in attendance along with several other neighborhood friends from the old days and, of course, many Osserman relatives and friends. Nic caught up with Jon who was now living in Arizona, married with a couple of kids, but it was Poochie who Nic was especially glad to see after so many years. It was hard to believe that he was forty and Poochie thirty-eight when he thought back on all those childhood memories – was it really so long ago?
The afternoon was full of reunions, reminisces, stories and laughter with plenty of good cheer, hugs, back slabbing and even a few tears. Nic was having a hard time keeping up with everybody – the afternoon was a steady stream of people coming and going, of conversations started, continued, and picked up later on. One minute Nic found himself chatting with ninety-four year old former neighbor Mr. Smith, the next minute he was being introduced to some old friend's granddaughter!
But he kept an eye on Poochie throughout the proceedings, amazed at how beautiful she was as an adult woman. He had bumped into her from time to time around Blue County over the years but this is the was the first time he had a chance to really observe her since he left for college more than twenty years ago.
Poochie's hair was still curly blonde, almost the exact same style and length she wore as a kid. She still had the same smile and Nic noticed that she appeared to still be relatively shy and timid as Nic observed her mostly standing near other people listening in on their conversations and offering an occasional head nod.
Julie earned the nickname "Poochie" because she was like a loyal dog – always hanging around, staying close, being affectionate and friendly, but never with a whole lot to say. She was a cute kid and Nic got used to (and comfortable with) having her around. When Poochie had something to say, it was meaningful, personable, important, and relevant – sometimes it was a one liner, other times it was an observation nobody else thought to make, and occasionally it was philosophical and moving.
Nic said hello to Poochie when he first saw her and they exchanged pleasantries whenever their paths crossed during the party. Nic noticed Poochie giving him a look on occasion and he would smile at her to acknowledge her recognition. The familiarity of a shared past made it easier to relate to one another now as they mingled among the many familiar guests.
Nic knew from various family members that Poochie had been in a long term relationship for several years that recently ended and that she worked at the Starlight Insurance Company, one of the largest employers in the county.
The party was beginning to wane when Nic finally found a lull in the action and took a moment to rest, taking a seat at an empty table to nurse a beer and collect himself.
He looked up to see Poochie standing in front of him with her trademark smile on her face.
"Hi, Pooch," he grinned. "Have a seat."
She did and they talked about the party for a few minutes, making observations about her parents. Nic listened intently while Poochie offered several personal reflections about how special, adored and loved her parents were. They were always nice to Nic which is why he was glad to be part of the celebration.
"I heard you're a hypnotist," Poochie said when their conversation started to sputter.
Nic smiled. "Well, an amateur one," he said. "I won't be leaving my day job."
"Senior accountant at the Blue County Credit Union."
"How'd you get into hypnosis?" Poochie asked with interest.
"My uncle was a hypnotist," Nic revealed. "I grew up around that sort of stuff. He hypnotized my mom before she gave birth to my older brother and she insists she didn't feel any pain."
"So he taught you?"
"He gave me pointers," Nic said. "But I also took a Hypnosis Course. In a tiny room with a handful of other wanna-bes for twelve weeks."
"You can really do it?"
"It's hard to believe it works until you see it yourself because, as a hypnotist, you have to convey your confidence that it works or it probably won't."
"I'm in charge of a training seminar at work next week," Poochie revealed. "I was thinking maybe you'd be a good ice breaker to lead off. You know, do a couple of hypnosis tricks?"
"Oh, I don't do it in public," Nic replied. "Family gatherings, friends' birthdays. That's about it."
"This is my first big gig being in charge," Poochie said nervously. "I want to do something a little bit different - you know, out of the box."
"Do you know what hypnosis is really all about?" Nic asked. "I don't want any misunderstandings."
"Tell me," she said.
"Well," he said, sitting back in his chair. "We don't put people 'under.' We don't put them to sleep. People under hypnosis are fully aware and awake and they can ignore suggestions they find objectionable."
"You mean you can't make people get naked?" Poochie joked.
"They wouldn't follow a suggestion they thought to be harmful to themselves or someone else," Nic explained. "The person doesn't lose control."
"So what do you do? Poochie asked seriously.
"I channel power," Nic answered. "The person is in control of all their regular facilities the entire time."
"What kind of power?" She asked with interest.
"Relaxation, imagination, and focus," Nic answered. "Some people experience the phenomenon of powerful imagination which allows them to give birth without pain like my mom or see a giraffe in the room or eat a lime and think it's an orange."
"I understand," Poochie said, nodding her head.
"Hypnosis can be a great way to relax and focus on good habits or to stop bad ones, like getting over phobias or quitting smoking although it doesn't always work."
"Hypnosis can only help do what the person wants to do," Nic explained. "If you want a cig more than you want to quit, hypnosis won't work but if you want to quit more than you want to smoke well then hypnosis can help make that quitting feel easier."
"That's very interesting," Poochie said.
"But there's no way to know how someone might respond to hypnosis," Nic continued. "Sometimes the most confident people are the easiest to hypnotize because they aren't afraid to try and it doesn't work for others because they're worried they'll do something stupid or embarrassing."
"Like get naked?" Poochie grinned.
Nic laughed. "A hypnotist is sort of like a coach or tour guide," he said. "They allow the person to let go but they don't control the person."
"So, will you help me out?" Poochie asked hopefully.
Nic looked at her for a long moment. "Will you go out with me?"
"To return the favor," he explained. "Dinner."
Poochie laughed with amusement. "Sure, Nic, we can go out to dinner," she smiled. "We haven't been to the Hillsboro Pizza House together in a long time."
Nic grinned. "I miss those days."
She told him about her job as Training Facilitator at the Insurance Company and he did a good job of making his role as senior accountant semi-interesting, mostly by making fun of what he did and not taking himself seriously. They also chatted about favorite memories growing up in the same town and neighborhood.
Poochie mentioned Nic's ex-wife (she remembered her from school) but Nic didn't ask after Poochie's recently ended long term relationship, not wanting her to feel bad.
They had been sitting away from the others for a good while and finally Poochie's sister Jane came over to rouse Poochie to join the rest of the family in a group photo. Nic watched her walk away and he noticed how sensual she looked in her white dress.
It was really good seeing her again!