So there is this kid at my son's nursery school - we'll call him Gaston - who apparently menaced my son one day.
I say "menace" because I am tired of this whole "anti-bullying" crusade. Look, there comes a time in life where you encounter bullies. You can never eradicate them, because people have issues. You just have to deal with them.
Anyway, so this kid menaced my son in some way. My wife wants me to do something.
First things first: I am not a fan of the Mike Brady Doctrine that states you can always reason with people. Sometimes you need to be a bit more blunt; sometimes you need to trade hands when you're faced with attack, and sometimes you need to run out the back window of Jim and Paul's dorm room at Widener University because you face certain doom if you go out the front door by that huge dude who was overserved and thinks you called him a name.
But my kid was 3 at the time.
"What am I supposed to do? Teach him Marine tactics? Tell him to punch Gaston in the trachea? He's 3."
"Well do something ...," she said, and before doing so, I waited for the sure-to-come passive-aggressive comment that was to follow.
"... for once."
There's comfort in stability.
So, as is often the case, I looked to the world of sports to provide an escape.
It was time to introduce my kid to Ali. It was time to teach him that sometimes humility is not the best way out of a situation because it's kind of fun to psyche yourself up while messing with other people's minds. To wit:
5. "I am the straw that stirs the drink."
Reggie Jackson rolls into New York, gets drunk with a reporter and puts forth himself as THE man on the Yankees, shoving it in the face of Thurman Munson and Billy Martin. Jackson sets himself up for the chance to become Mr. October when he delivers the World Series title after hitting four home runs in a row in October 1977 over the course of two games. Classic.
4. "I personally guarantee it."
Joe Namath's Super Bowl III brag enraged the Baltimore Colts' Bubba Smith so much that it affected his performance on the field. You can't fight with too much rage, and Namath -- a cross-dressing quarterback from Alabama with a gun for an arm -- knew whose buttons to push.
Clubber Lang's prediction for the fight not only got him the title in "Rocky 3," it killed Rocky's manager and almost landed him Talia Shire.
And that brings us to the top two, as performed by two people in the Montessori parking lot in full view of the Gaston family, who thought they witnessed pure crazy in action and wanted no part of it.
"What are you?"
1. "I AM THE GREATEST OF ALL TIMES, AND I CANNOT POSSIBLY BE BEAT!"
"And if someone even dreams of whooping you?"
2. "THEY BETTER WAKE UP AND APOLOGIZE!"
Rumble, young man, rumble.
Postscript: Maybe the plan worked too well ... now my kid "play dates" with Gaston. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Mark Vasto is a veteran sportswriter who lives in Kansas City.