“She’s shapes,” Margaret whispered to her husband as she peeked over her humongous sunglasses at one of the sunbathers she was passing. “Look at all these people, Steven, roasting themselves,” she tsked under her breath as she nervously fingered the pendant around her neck, “disgusting,”.
Having been married to Margaret for over 17 years, Steven had learned long ago to just nod and interject a “yes dear” here and there if he didn’t want to start something (between you and me though, Steven had stopped listening to anything his wife said within the 1st year of marriage and had absolutely no idea what his beautiful bride was griping about now).
Thinking a cruise would be a way to reconnect with Margaret, Steven shook his head as his own naiveté. He had been wrong, of course. She was just as ornery sailing through the seas of the Caribbean as she was back home. “Can’t change a leopard’s spots,” Steven mumbled to himself.
“What was that, Steven?” Margaret was now directing her 1000-watt glare at her husband and he could actually see the insult forming on the back of her tongue. Before she had a chance to spew her venom he replied, “I was just saying, sweetheart, how you are perfectly correct, as usual.”
“Quite right!” Margaret seemed satisfied as she spun back to continue on her projected path- towards the buffet… again.
Steven remembered a time when his wife had actually been a sweetheart. She had been lovely then, full of life and compassion, a girl of such a sweet disposition he thought his teeth might fall out just being near her. He had given her the onyx pendant she still had on as an engagement present; at the time the black stone reminding him of her eyes, pools of infinite mystery.
But something had changed her. His beautiful and sweet wife had metamorphosed into the she-witch he now cowed behind in the stir-fry line. “What happened to her?” He found himself wondering for the thousandth time. He could not, for the life of him, figure out what could have caused such a dramatic, and seemingly permanent change in his wife all those years ago.
“Come on, Steven,” Margaret’s shrill voice stirred him from his reflections, “we’re going to be late for the Hypnotist in Cinema 6! I really wish I had married a man who knew how to be punctual, I swear you are going to be the death of me!” and with that Margaret huffed off towards the stairwell.
Smiling sheepishly at the young couple that was now looking at him in a combination of disbelief and sympathy, Steven shrugged his shoulders and followed his wife out of the dining area. Arriving in Cinema 6, Margaret pointed to the seat she expected Steven to occupy for the next hour, then gathering her layers of flowing garments, settled into the seat next to him just as the lights lowered.
After being introduced by the cruise director, Dr. Lyons, hypnotist extraordinaire arrived on stage with a flourish and to much applause. Following several minutes of introduction and an explanation of how hypnotism has been used for centuries to help people focus their minds in order to achieve all kinds of extraordinary things- quitting smoking, picking up exercise, even gaining more confidence, he was ready to start the show.
“Now, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to request several volunteers to join me on the stage at this time. Come now, don’t be shy, this will not hurt and it could even change your life! Imagine what you could do if you were able to completely train your mind and bend it to you will. Imagine it!” Dr. Lyons scanned the crowd as a few brave souls made their way to the stage. “You, sir. I believe you would be a great volunteer for tonight’s show!” Looking around and behind him, Steven realized Dr. Lyons was pointing directly at him.
“Well, alright. Looks like fun, why not?” Steven replied as he rose from his seat. “Steven, do NOT embarrass me up there, do you understand?” Margaret hissed at him as he moved past her and into the aisle.
“Go to hell, woman.” He almost spit back, but instead he just shook his head and made his way to the front.
“Ok, great! Thank you all for volunteering! Let’s give them a hand, eh folks?” Dr. Lyons was really getting into his grove now. Once the applause died down, Dr. Lyons had each volunteer sit on a stool that had been brought on stage. Once seated, the hypnotist would whisper into each participant’s ear, wait for their reply and then would move to the next person. Upon reaching Steven, Dr. Lyons leaned in close and asked, “if you could wish for anything, what would it be, my friend?”. Somewhat surprised by the question, Steven leaned back to look the doctor in the eye to make sure he was in earnest and then, without another moment’s hesitation whispered his answer. Smiling, Dr. Lyons patted Steven’s arm and moved on to the final volunteer where the process was repeated.
“Now, ladies and gentlemen I would ask for complete silence as I attempt to hypnotize each of our lovely volunteers. Thank you,” turning back to his subjects Dr. Lyon’s began his process and within minutes most of the volunteers were seemingly asleep, including Steven. Those who resisted his charms were politely asked to exit the stage and thanked for their time. “Now, when I tap you on the shoulder you open your eyes and believe yourself to be a chicken,” Dr. Lyon’s was now speaking to the first volunteer, and then tapped her on the shoulder. To the audience’s delight the woman instantly hopped off her stool and began clucking and scratching the ground.
Dr. Lyon’s had each volunteer perform some ludicrous exercise for the next 45 minutes before having them return once again to their stools in order to be brought out of the hex. “Now, when I clap my hands three times, you will all wake, as if from the best dream you have ever had. You will feel relaxed, refreshed, and possess an energy you have never felt before. When I clap my hands for the third and final time, you will remember your answer to my question and it will be fulfilled.”
On the third clap all of the volunteers instantly awoke and appeared to believe that nothing had happened. The all took a bow when prompted and then returned to their seats, no worse for ware, if not just a little disoriented.
“Well?” Margaret’s black eyes were almost piercing into Steven’s skin as he sat back down next to her. “Well what?” he asked, rubbing his eyes with the palms of his hands.
“What did he ask you, up there? You will tell me this instant!” Margaret demanded. “I honestly don’t know, sweetheart. I can’t remember,” Steven replied, shaking his head. And it was true, he couldn’t remember. What on earth had happened up there?
“Well, that simply isn’t good enough, Steven. That will not do. I expect an answer!” The fury in Margaret’s eyes was only the first indicator that things were about to go downhill, and fast.
Suddenly, and without understanding why, Steven stood up, looked at his wife and snatched the onyx pendant from her throat before she could react. Moving with a speed he didn’t think he was capable of, Steven headed for the stairs. Upon reaching the 11th concourse he walked through the automatic doors into the night air and onto the deck of the ship. With all the strength he could muster, he wheeled back and pitched the necklace overboard and into the black waters below.
He turned to see his wife behind him, looking almost like a stranger now that the permanent scowl had disappeared from her once again lovely features. “I feel… I feel a bit strange. I had the funniest dream; actually it was quite horrible come to think of it. I was trapped in this shell of anger and hatred and I couldn’t seem to stop saying and thinking these awful things. Ugh, it was terrible! No matter, I’m awake now, and you’re here, that’s all that matters”.
Coming closer, she began taking in her surrounding and exclaimed, “Oh! What a beautiful night! And what a wonderful man you are to bring me on such a magical ship!” Margaret was practically glowing and Steven was almost brought to his knees as he looked at his wife, as if for the first time.
“Come now, Steven. Don’t look at me like that! I’m blushing all the way to the roots of my hair! Why don’t we take a walk, love. I feel as if we haven’t spoken in years,” Margaret extended her hand, and grasping it firmly in his, Steven said a silent thank you to Dr. Lyons for keeping his promise.
The Not So Fantastic Truth:
The above story is based upon the following tidbits from my day:
ONE: On day two of my very first cruise, the entire experience has stuck me as a bit odd. Today we are at sea all day, and it being a very beautiful & sunny day outside, most of the passengers are catching a few rays by the pool and wherever else they can find a vacant lounge chair. The shapes, sizes, smells, speech, skin, and amount of body hair of these bathing ‘beauties’ is really something to behold. As I walk through the aisles of prostrate human-kabobs as they sizzle in the sun, I can’t help but be completely entertained by the best people-watching day I’ve had since I worked at Walk Disney World.
TWO: While waiting for today’s “who-done-it” entertainment show to begin, I noticed on several separate occasions a pattern that tickled me a little. In would walk these couples, age was not a factor, and the woman would instantly take charge. “No, no, no. Sit there,” the woman two rows up said to her husband who immediately did her bidding. “We’re not sitting here. I don’t want to be this close. Move back,” another herding wife said to her comfortably seated husband to the left of me. This happened a least another time before the show began and it made me think about the dynamic of relationships and how women can’t seem to help themselves when it comes to giving their menfolk directions (read: orders). I found the behavior fascinating and couldn’t help but add it to today’s story.
THREE: The food. Good God, the food. It’s everywhere, and everyone is eating it, all of the time. Including me. Today I partook of some delicious stir-fry I thought worth briefly mentioning in my little story. I’m just now getting the whole buffet thing down, and boy howdy… I’m still stuffed. In case anyone’s curious, today I have ingested: scrambled eggs, more strips of bacon then I care to mention, two heaping bowls of fruit, lemon sorbet, chicken stir-fry, a spring role, a giant pretzel role, a chocolate orange mousse, some other chocolate dessert thingy, a coconut mango cupcake, and enough mango-guava-orange juice and tea to keep my own cruise liner afloat. This, and dinner is still a few hours away… which of course means I have time to eat some more before stuffing myself into my wincingly tight cocktail dress to, you guessed it, eat again!
Love & Squirrels.