There is a scene in my book, “He Was Weird,” which I call the “Smiley Incident.” To bring those who haven’t read it up to speed, Smiley is a substitute PE teacher at Mark’s school. While Mark is playing basketball with his fellow students, Smiley begins calling Mark, “Coordination Plus.” Then at one point, when Mark has his back to him, Smiley pulls Mark’s shorts down thus humiliating Mark in front of his entire class resulting in him getting teased about it for the rest of the day. When he goes home after school, Mark tells his mother about the pulling down of his pants. His mother and his grandfather immediately contact the police and have Smiley arrested.
As is the case with Mark throughout the story, even though Smiley pleads guilty to indecent assault as part of a deal and is banned from working with children for five years and put on the sex offenders list for two years, it doesn’t end well for him. Fellow classmates who support Smiley take the consequences he faces for his action out on the victim. This leads to Mark being further bullied and even to physical violence because he told his parents and had Smiley sent away.
Like with so many instances of bullying mentioned in the book, this too happened to me. However, it did not happen during the three years of bullying hell which I suffered and inspired me to write “He Was Weird.” In my freshman year in high school, I did encounter a man nicknamed Smiley who volunteered as an assistant wrestling coach, I’m not totally sure of that fact, at my school. He did join in with us playing basketball at one of my PE classes and he did call me ‘Coordination Plus.’ Most importantly though, he did pull my shorts down. However, I did nothing about it. In fact, I never mentioned it until 14 years ago when I was in counselling.
Why didn’t I report it back then? Well the main answer to that is that if I had, nothing would have been done about it. Attitudes were different in 1976 and while this doesn’t excuse it, it does highlight the fact that if I had reported it to the school, Smiley would have gotten a mere slap on the wrist at most and I would have been made out to be the weak ‘pussy’ for telling on him. This was why I was so easily able to write about the reprisals on Mark in the story because I genuinely feared that would have happened to me if I had reported it. I probably would have been beaten up by the wrestling team, so I feared. That’s why I never said anything. Ironically, when working as a substitute teacher a few years back, I did tell a class of children around the same age Mark was in the story about it. They overwhelmingly stated that I should have had Smiley done. Oh, how things have changed.
For those same reasons, I have never told my mother. She passed away in March never knowing that her son had been indecently assaulted in high school. I believe at the time, if I had told her, she and my grandfather would have reacted the same way Mark’s do in the story and even though it was 1976, would have tried to have Smiley prosecuted. They probably would have succeeded in getting him banned from the school. However, my fears were that all of the above things mentioned would have still happened to me. I would have been the bad guy for reporting it, even more so because I got my mother involved and there would have been a backlash. Therefore, I never told anyone. Besides if I had brought it up to my mother years later, it would have only caused her more grief, so I’m glad I never told her.
One final reason why I am only posting about it now after all these years is down to my own Asperger’s fueled anxieties. Former abuse victims have been coming out and telling about their awful experiences and I praise them highly for doing so. That leads to another anxiety; having my shorts pulled down isn’t nearly as bad as some of the sexual abuse others have suffered. Because what I experienced isn’t horrific, I felt I had no right to talk about it. It’s only now that I do and what it has done is make me even more empathetic to those who have suffered worse things than I. Also there’s my anxiety that because people are coming out about their abuse, I will be seen as simply jumping on the bandwagon. While it might sound daft, I do hope that people don’t really think that.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1543425136&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird