What’s in a name? That question addresses a form of bullying in “He Was Weird” that is unique to any other which takes place in any other fictional book on bullying. To bring you up to speed if you’re not familiar with the story, in “He Was Weird,” the main character Mark Leversee starts out as Marvin. Three chapters in, Marvin’s name is legally changed to Mark, mainly because his mother never liked the name and only agreed to letting her now estranged husband name their child Marvin to keep the peace. Now separated, she petitions the state to change her son’s name to Mark and it is granted.
Marvin never liked the name either, especially because there was a popular cartoon called “Marvin the Monster” and many children liked to call him that. To most people, this form of teasing wouldn’t effect people but Marvin has Asperger’s Syndrome so in his case, even the smallest insults can cut. Furthermore, hearing it all the time, eventually wears him down and takes its toll as well. Therefore, he is totally delighted in getting a new name, at least from the view point of improving his low self esteem.
While Mark might have been proud of his new name, his classmates weren’t as receptive. It didn’t help that when the teacher announces it to the class, she does so by beginning, “I don’t know how we’re going to get used to this, but Marvin is now Mark.” When the children hear it, the first thing they immediately assume that the sole reason for changing his name is because everyone called him ‘Marvin the Monster.’ In their eyes, Mark changing his name for that reason confirms that he is a wimp.
It could be assumed that is the reason why most of the children in the school never adjust to the new name but continue to call him ‘Marvin.’ However, calling him by his former name was a bullying tool. Mainly because they knew it got to him and when Mark tried to protest, the children would only do it more. Then there was the case of Tommy Allen stating that his fist said that Mark’s name was Marvin. Even worse, they would do it in front of teachers who knew better but said nothing. On top of that, one would think that when he began attending the junior high school the next year, the children from the other elementary school would not know of his former name or at least call him ‘Mark.’ Wrong, in fact, the children from his old school made sure that everyone knew what his name used to be and the new children didn’t hesitate in calling him ‘Marvin’ and it continues right up to that fateful day when Mark finally gets his revenge.
Though the media always refers to him as Mark after he carries out his school shooting, it doesn’t stop other children from telling the media, the police and the FBI about it. While not much is made about it in the media, it is enough for the people of Ramsgate to conclude that Mark shot up the school simply because he didn’t like everyone calling him ‘Marvin.’ This belief is fostered onto the future generations of the school as well.
Now it’s time to reveal something I’ve kept to myself for forty years. Originally, I was born Milton LeFevre. My mother didn’t like the name, nor did my father, but he wanted a junior. Like my father, I usually went by my middle name Dee. This was great around friends and okay when I was of pre school age. Unfortunately, school teachers didn’t agree to the use of my middle name. My first grade teacher even told me that I would learn more if I used the name Milton. What rubbish! I never liked the name although a lot of children don’t like their names. Then there was the famous cartoon ‘Milton the Monster.’ If you were living in the late 60s and early 70s, you might remember it. Like with Mark, being called that all the time did eventually get me down.
Also like Mark, I had nearly three years of people insisting on calling me by my former name. Those who were willing to call me Michael, were soon persuaded otherwise by those who weren’t. Why did they do it? The answer is simple. Calling me ‘Milton’ was the easiest way of bullying me. Any protest by me was ignored or seen as an overreaction. Some would even shout me down that my name was Milton. As for adults, they displayed the typical attitude to small scale bullying that was prevalent in the 1970s. The belief if they intervened, the bullies would do worse things to the victim, so this bullying was ignored, even by my mother who stated that she got called worse things.
When I moved from that town, the one thing I was glad about was that no one in my new town would know my former name. Even I was to experience the bullying I had previously, which I didn’t, not even close, the one positive I could take was at least they weren’t calling me Milton. No wonder my self esteem rose when I moved as did a vast improvement in my school work. Still, I believe that if I had gotten a hold of a gun and shot up my former school, I am convinced that the town would have trivialized my reason for doing so being I didn’t like people calling me by my former name.
To buy He Was Weird go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1450126657&sr=8-1&keywords=he+was+weird