Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Power of suggestion

I’ve always believed in the power of suggestion - I just never knew the extent of its power. Sure, I only heard the “Satan is my hairdresser” line until after my youth group leader told me to listen for it while he slowly fingered the Black Sabbath LP backwards across the phonograph needle. And, I’ve definitely had the experience where I’m exposed to a new word, and then I see or hear it everywhere. However, my ponderings on “skullduggery” apparently added some high-octane fuel in the power of suggestion engine. Right after I made a mental note about that word while driving down Highway 1 in Leucadia, I saw a stereotypical Harley-Davidson figure drive by on his signature hog.

Now, I’m not implying that all Harley riders are crafty or deceitful, nor I am suggesting that they all sew skull and crossbones on the back of their tasseled, leather jackets. For if that were the case, this particular event would not be worth mentioning at all. In fact, their presence is quite common on this popular and eclectic stretch of California coastline. What you don’t often see is a Harley rider with a pint-sized, skeletal companion on back sporting the typical leather garb - but without any skin. Then again, the grim figure appeared to be having so much fun, I’m now surprised that you don’t see it more often.

So I began to wonder it my musing on skullduggery had conjured up this Harley-riding, skeleton puppet beaming back at me with a disturbing, yet toothsome smile. Before I had too much time to consider this fact, I was passed by a large, high-riding black truck with a pair of skull and crossbones emblazoned across the tailgate. Whether the owner of the truck was just extremely patriotic or merely thought our national symbol helped soften the effects of the Jolly Roger imagery, I cannot tell, but nonetheless the truck also featured four American flags waving rapidly from the windows and truck bed. Once again, this is not a scene one often encounters, and the timing was impeccable.

Due to these odd events, I began to consider that the power of suggestion goes beyond an increased exposure to a particular word or phrase – it has the ability to shape individual destinies. In my case, it made a Harley rider with a puppet fetish and a patriot with a Napoleon complex make an intricate series of decisions that led them across my path. I think altering the life course of these individuals took a lot out of the suggestion deity, as the next day it was back to its tried and true tricks. This time, it was working its magic on my friend A.J., who came across the use of the word “skullduggery” in a daily newsletter he received just hours after reading my post. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I’ll have to track down a black truck and mischievous marionette to be certain.

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