Todays Daily Prompt: “Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself?”
Everyone calls me Tony. Well, not everyone. Officially I’m Anthony on all the paperwork and, if you don’t mind, the ‘h’ is silent when you say my name.
One of the strange things about me is that despite calling myself Tony I always use the initials ARW. I don’t know why but I always have.
My mother wanted to christen me Tony but, so the family story goes, my Grandfather didn’t like it, he thought it was an “Itie” name, so I was christened with Anthony though even Grandad always called me Tony.
I can always tell when it’s a salesman or a bill collector on the phone as they always ask for ‘Anthony’. I always tell them “Don’t call me Anthony” and when they ask what they should call me I reply with “since we haven’t been introduced, Mr Williams.” If I’m in a good mood I might ask them to note on my file that I prefer to be called Tony. Good service companies, like my bank, should be able to cope with that.
There was one standout person in my life who insisted on calling me by my full name and to make it worse to pronounce it the Australian way sounding the ‘h’.
My first year of High School was a descent into hell. Primary School had been OK but then the family moved and I was in High School in a new town with no friends. Bullied and harassed from the outset.
My English teacher, Mrs Wilson, was a mediocre teacher in my favourite subject and I couldn’t help but get great marks in her class no matter what she did. To be honest I’d probably read more books than she had. By three weeks into the term I’d read every text at least twice and for most of the authors, poets and playwrights read a volume or two extra.
So Mrs Wilson loved choosing me to answer her questions. She knew she would get the right answer, a considered answer. The only problem she had with me was that when the class was reading through a text out loud there was no point calling on me as I never knew what point they were up to — I’d grow bored at the painful reading of my classmates and read well ahead through the book or play.
I had a problem with her. I hated that woman, not just for the pain of suffering in an English class full of fellow students that in the whole were well below me, not just for her fumbling attempts to force understanding of literature into their minds.
No, she did worse. At a time when I was suffering from constant bullying and an English class could have been a haven from gross rudeness and indignity but she was the one teacher who refused to call me Tony. The first few weeks I must have told her my name was Tony a dozen times. One week I refused to answer to ‘Anthony Williams’ when she called the class roll and when she noticed me I once again told her “But my name is Tony Williams”. In the end I gave up and hated her for it.
Mrs Wilson really typified everything that made three years in that school so bad. It was a school that didn’t really care who I was, didn’t care what happened to me and certainly wasn’t prepared to take any responsibility for it.
I hated her with a loathing I have never matched since. So do me a favour, never call me “Anthony.”