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Sep 25 2011

Persuasion

One more reprint for a busy birthday weekend.

I’m walking up the street with my friend. I’m maybe fourteen or fifteen. She’s a couple years older. A fine mist starts.

Friend: It’s raining.

Me (struck by some awesome whim): No, it’s not.

Friend: No, really. I just felt a drop.

Me: I don’t feel anything.

The rain gets slightly heavier.

Friend: It’s definitely raining.

Me: Uh, I’m sorry. I don’t feel anything.

Friend: Look. I can see it.

Me: I…[shrug] sorry.

Friend: You can’t see that?

I shake my head slowly.

Friend: But I’m sure it’s raining.

Me (feigning concern): Um. Look, are you sure you’re okay?

Friend: But I can feel it. I’m getting wet.

Me: I’m really sorry.

I bite my lip. My friend looks at me, then at the ground. We walk along in silence.

Friend (quietly): You really don’t think it’s raining, do you?

Me: Oh, of course it’s raining. I’m just messing with you.

It was then and there that I learned just how malleable people are, that however much we might think of ourselves as discrete individuals, we’re prey to all sorts of outside influences. It was a hell of a lesson, even if I gave it to myself.

Oh, yeah. She hit me pretty hard for that one. We both agreed I’d deserved it.

5 comments

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  1. 1
    Manly Bowler

    Seriously, that was both funny and really mean. I’m sure I’d have you punched some more, just so you don’t try that again. ;-)

  2. 2
    leftwingfox

    Weird serendipity, I read this the same day I learned the term “Gaslighting”.

  3. 3
    Tsu Dho Nimh

    I love doing that to people!

  4. 4
    Biodork

    This reminds me of Caroline B. Cooney’s young adult series “Losing Christina”, and a dozen other psychodramatic stories, movie plots, and infamous psychological experiences, in which a person is slowly driven insane by someone else. It always makes me shiver when I consider how tenous our hold of reality seems to be, how quick we might be to doubt our senses and intuition when we’re put in the right – er, wrong -situation.

  5. 5
    Stephanie Zvan

    Manly, I promise I wasn’t doing it to be mean. I was trying very hard to understand how people worked at that point in my life. Which probably made me even more dangerous. :)

    Biodork, exactly. This has stuck with me as long as it has not because it was a cool trick I pulled off but because it taught me so much about the social nature of our perceptions. It still creeps me out.

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