I've written elsewhere about the power of words, the effects they can have on people. Sometimes even one word can exert a powerful influence.
Take, for example, "Begger's Night" on the Halloween when I was eight years old. Our mothers took my younger brothers and several cousins door-to-door through the neighborhood. The treats were the usual boring items--peanuts, apples, oranges, and the occasional miniature candy bar. At one point my oldest cousin (a year older than me) said, "Let's skip the next house."
Wow--"skip" a house? That sounded cool--so cool that I had to say it. "Yeah, let's skip this one!" Wow--we would be doing something! And so we did. We waited on the sidewalk as our mothers took the little kids up to the house's door, feeling decidedly older.
A few seconds later, we weren't feeling older (nor wiser) at all. My brothers and cousins came dancing down from the house's porch, cheering, "Look! They gave us Three Musketeers bars--the big ones!"
Sure enough, these people weren't messing around--no fruits and nuts here! They had dropped a full-size Three Musketeers bar into each bag. (And make no mistake about it: Three Musketeers bars were serious candy bars back then. Each one was the size of a cigar box!)
"We wanna go back," my cousin wailed. "Oh, no," our mothers replied. "You said you wanted to 'skip' that house, and skip it you will"