It was a psychological experiment gone horribly awry. The objective? To test the power of the spoken word and its subsequent effect on the human psyche.

The victim? My friend Ben, a pacifist so mellow that it would require the use of powerful pharmaceutical stimulants to bring him up to the level of a catatonic state.

The method? While taking careful notes, I would verbally provoke the affable Ben until he lost control. I made arrangements to meet Ben and while waiting, made my first entry into my scientific journal.

The subject approaches,”I wrote. “I will begin the experiment by attacking his social skills.”

“You nincompoop!” I shouted.”You are late! Do you think I have all day to wait for you, you pompous buffoon?”

“Huh?” said Ben.”According to my watch, I am right on time.”

“Subject seems puzzled, yet calm and rational; even apologetic. I shall try insulting his intelligence,” I penciled into my journal.

“Your watch? You are too stupid to read a watch, you muddle-headed cretin!”

“Here, now,” said Ben.”That seems a bit uncalled for.”

I wrote, “Subject still appears unmoved, but has begun to sweat and nervously shift his weight from one foot to the other. Perhaps I should begin the next barrage by questioning his masculinity.”

“Show some gumption, you lily-livered pantywaist!” I barked. “You prissy, nondescript, adenoidal, stoop-shouldered parasite!”

I cranked it up like an evangelist on a mission from God.

“Come on, Ben! Let it out! You have no more gumption than that whiny mother of yours! Fly high on the wings of self-expression! Say Hallelujah!”

From somewhere inside Ben’s head came a shrill, piercing whistle not unlike the five-o’clock whistle from the sprocket factory across town. It clearly signaled danger. I sharpened my pencil and held it poised over my journal in anxious anticipation. There could be a Nobel Prize in my future.

“What did you say about my mama?” roared Ben, whose calm nature was nowhere in sight.

“Uh-oh. Now, Ben, it was nothing personal you understand. It was purely in the interest of scientific advancement. Hold on now, what are you going to do with that pencil?”

Sprinting was never my strong suit, but Ben can run pretty fast for a big guy. Still, it will be worth it when I collect my Nobel. But first I have to see a proctologist about a painful pencil.

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