John Moser’s note below on bullies and self-esteem reminded me of an experience I had soon after I came to America (to Hermosa Beach, California). I was ten, spoke no English. I was given a math test to find out what grade I ought to be put in. They said the sixth; so there I sat not understanding a word that was being said by the teacher (believe it or not, one Mr. Friend). I was assigned to a boy named Jeffrey who was instructed to teach me to read. And he did, eventually. (I hasten to point out that this was before the great invention of bi-lingual ed, so it only took a few months). During recess and lunch break a fellow named Butch (I’m not kidding, that was his name) would beat me up every time he saw me (about a half dozen times a day). No one interfered. I don’t remember fighting back, but I do remember not liking it. I do remember that the girls were very nice, they would pick me up off the ground and comfort me after each defeat. Maybe that’s why I didn’t fight back. I don’t know. Near the end of the school year I decided to fight back. It was a great event. Everyone knew about it, all the students were arranged in a circle on the asphalt playground. And I whipped him. The cheers were loud and prolonged. The girls were misty-eyed and entirely smitten. I especially remember the special kindness of Violet, one of my classmates and the first black person I had ever met. I was now Achilles, but not closed to polygamy. And Butch--I almost forgot about Butch--shook my hand and congratulated me. Not only did we cease fighting one another, we became allies, looked for wimps and when we found them, we merely pushed them around, since we didn’t have to fight anyone, anymore. We had a reputation! Better that than strength, courage, or cunning.