If I recall my first encounter with manipulation, my memory will pull me back to swinging on the Lafayette Elementary School playground during recess. A pendulum of children occupied every seat, but Patricia and Amanda felt entitled to a turn. Among the dozen of peers, the two popular yet spoiled puppeteers of young boys selected me.
“Cary,” their voices coquettishly sang, “can we have a turn on the swing?”
I explained that my turn had just begun as I swooshed back and forth, pumping my legs to fly higher. Yet even with my sincere apologies, the pair were unsatisfied with my response, immediately dropping the angelic masks they wore.
“You’re so stupid. Stupid head,” one of them barked.
“Yeah. I thought you were nice, but you’re just a jerk,” sneered the other.
And that’s how they scored my seat on the swing set, by attacking me with my known weakness: pleasing everybody to avoid conflict. Yes, I felt defeated when I plowed my feet into the sand to halt my ride. Yes, I felt ashamed when I stood aside and mumbled, “Here you go.” But at that age, I couldn’t be disliked, and they knew that. Everyone knew that.
Nowadays, I realize that if you want to manipulate someone’s feelings to get what you want, there are more civil ways of accomplishing it other than labeling your victim a “stupid head.” As a matter of fact, I may have willingly conceded my place on the swing if Patricia and Amanda had used The Cat Said method of manipulation instead of hurting my feelings – but don’t worry, I’m no longer bitter about what those wretched twats did to my innocence.
The Cat Said method is easy to master and can save your (presumably) turbulent relationship. All you need is at least one cat, one significant other (although, for you Mormons, I assume it is effective on more than one at a time – but this has yet to be tested), and the alacrity to heartlessly beguile your naive loved one(s) into giving you want you want.