His father was a University professor and his mother was a lawyer. That Victor lacked their passion for academic acheivement was something of an irritant to them as were the frequent calls from school administrators and the irate parents of Victor’s victims.
Victor had wisely chosen to form a strategic partnership with the next largest boy in seventh grade, Mark Ballis, who had been held back a couple of times making him the oldest seventh grader in the entire school system. Mark was neither tremendously bright nor capable, but generally not a bad sort of kid and Victor had decided that he needed something of a life remake. As part of Victor’s remake, he had renamed him, “Spike” and had had spent considerable effort on tutoring him as to how to comport himself with a certain thuggish silence and an attitude of cool equanimity. Spike became a perfect henchman.
Victor and Spike, while often scheming greater exploits mostly engaged in classic bullying, shaking down kids in the halls and at recess for their lunch money. Victor’s instincts led him to choose the social misfits, the nerds and the fat kids as his victims, steering clear of the popular kids.
One day, Victor and Spike had cornered a recently arrived fat kid on the playground. Victor got close up to the kid so that he had to look up at him at a sharp angle and pressed his demand. “You kind of bother me looking like that, I think that you should give my associate here Spike your lunch money.”
Normally, the implied threat of violence and the innate desire to flee caused most kids to hurriedly comply with Victor’s demands, but this kid did not seem to be in any hurry to comply. Victor leaned closer as the kid asked him, “What do you need it for?”
Nobody had ever asked Victor a question that went to the purpose of his enterprise before and he didn’t have a quick answer ready. His brain raced as he stalled for time. He fixed his portly interlocutor with an angry stare, the kind he had practiced in the mirror hundreds of times, but the kid just stood there, relaxed and expectant.
Then, from somewhere, Victor knew not where, the words came to him and he delivered them with a patient, but subtly insistent tone. “This isn’t about our needs. This is about you. You need to lose some weight and toughen up a bit. We will strengthen your ability to help yourself by removing one of the causes of your problem. Now, are you going to hand over the money or do we have to work harder to strengthen you?”
Victor, now an old man sitting in his favorite chair, reflected that this was the turning point in his life where he transitioned from being a mere thug to becoming a politician.
Strengthen – example 2.)