It's not every Tuesday morning that I sit at my desk, headphones on, eyes closed, willing myself to fall into a trance. But some mornings the internet sends strange things your way.
On Tuesday, Reddit tipped me off to Samsung's Swedish site, which featured a hypnotherapy service called "Unspoil Me." It's an unusual bit of marketing, but the company said it worked with two hypnotists to develop the site. It claims that you'll "experience your favorite TV series as if it were the first time."
Sign. Me. Up.
I decided to see if the service could help me forget the HBO mini-series "Big Little Lies," partly because it's the best thing I've watched this year and partly because it was pictured on the "Unspoil Me" page.
I put my headphones, ticked a box confirming that I was "fully mentally healthy" and clicked through to start the hypnosis.
Down the rabbit hole
A lilting Swedish voice told me to relax and focus on the swirling image on my screen. I concentrated for a few minutes before it occurred to me that I should probably let my colleagues know what I was up to.
I took my headphones off to tell them I was being hypnotized by my computer and not to disturb me. Still, throughout the whole hypnosis I was anxious someone was going to tap me on the shoulder. This constant low-lying anxiety got worse every time I was told to relax. Go figure.
The voice told me to close my eyes and count backwards from 300. While I was counting, the voice told me a lovely story about trees, which made it almost impossible to concentrate on the numbers. I got to about 282 before I was told to imagine going down 10 stairs to a place of greater relaxation.
Directions for when I should go down each step were precise and weaved into a moralistic story about an emperor and a chess player. It was during this story that I first had to try really hard not to think about "Big Little Lies."
The harder I tried, though, the more I kept picturing Nicole Kidman, who plays Celeste Wright in the show. I couldn't stop thinking about how tall she is, especially compared to co-star Reese Witherspoon. No wonder so many scenes featuring both of actors were filmed with them sitting down.
The voice said something about the importance of counting, but I know it had skipped step six and step four ... and maybe also step two? I felt like the voice was trying to trick me, and by picking up on it I had passed a test. Or maybe I failed because I clearly wasn't in a trance.
Every step the voice sent me down doubled in height. By the time we got to the final step, I was picturing myself hanging off the edge of a cliff. I let go and fell into the darkness. The landing was nice and soft, like a mat from gym class.
I rolled over, stood up and immediately saw Witherspoon's character Madeline vomiting all over her ex-husband's new wife Bonnie, played by Zoe Kravitz. Bonnie tried to be patient with Madeline, but boy was she mad.
The voice told me I should be physically and mentally relaxed by this point. I checked to see how relaxed I felt physically. My fingers, which had been laced in front of me on my desk since the beginning of the hypnosis, now felt totally numb, almost like I had one big hand instead of two.
Concentrate, I told myself. The voice guided me through different light tunnels -- red, yellow, purple, and white. I wondered if I could remember the "Big Little Lies" theme music, but I could only picture Witherspoon driving over Bixby Creek Bridge.
Concentrate, I told myself again as I heard a colleague laugh on the other side of my headphones.
Now I was standing on a timeline of my own life. In front of me was supposed to be the future, but all I could see was a staircase sweeping down into a double-height, glass-fronted living room and the Malibu coastline beyond. I tried to remember which bits of "Big Little Lies" had actually been filmed in Monterey, California, where the series is set.
Then I tried to not remember any of the show. But in my mind, I could still see Witherspoon's hair blowing in the wind as she gazed out over the Pacific ocean.
The voice told me to float back to the point on my timeline before I watched "Big Little Lies" and turn around, looking ahead to the point in the future where I wanted to watch it again for the first time. I felt like I was floating over the penultimate scene of the show, the one where everything is revealed, trying not to see the spoilers.
I used all the mental strength I could muster to banish it from my mind as the voice ordered me to zoom back up my timeline to the present day. Then the voice sent me into the future. Enjoy the feeling of anticipation as you sit down to watch your show again, said the voice. The memory of watching it before should be fuzzy, the voice said.
Kidman's supersized face floated back into view. She was giving that me that suspicious, super-intense look she does so well. Giant Nicole Kidman knows the truth, I thought. She knows it isn't fuzzy.
The voice counted me out of my trance. I felt hugely relieved. The anxiety in my chest immediately vanished.
The recommendation is that you sleep on it before rewatching your show of choice to allow the hypnosis work its magic in your dreams.
But I didn't sleep. I sat down to write this piece. Straight away I remembered everything about "Big Little Lies" I had been trying to repress, as well as some details about the show I had previously forgotten.
Who knows, perhaps I sabotaged my own chances of forgetting by reliving my hypnosis. Perhaps I will wake up tomorrow and have forgotten everything about "Big Little Lies" after all. Perhaps I will feel a strange, inexplicable urge to go out and buy a Samsung TV.
More likely, my dreams will now forever be haunted by Nicole Kidman. Every time I close my eyes, there she will be, judging me, reminding me that I couldn't forget.
Thanks a bunch, Samsung.
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