I had a recent conversation with a friend about our relative levels of geekiness. He had insisted that I was wwaaayyyy geek and none of his traits were. While I happily admit to the first, I felt he was living in a slight delusion as to the actual level of coolness his interests really had.
I think it´s a denial that stems from the fact that when we first met, he was a recently graduated Arts student, with all the coffee-drinking, cigarette-smoking, philosophy-discussing über-coolness that implies, whereas I was in postgrad Science, and if the first degree hadn´t branded me for life with a giant NERD written in black felt tip marker across my forehead, the second was sure to. Actually, who am I kidding, high school had me branded years before. Reading Z for Zachariah when I was eight sucked me straight into the world of science fiction and any coolness I may have developed in my formative years was lost forever under the thrill of Lost in Space, Astroboy and Battle of the Planets.
Yesterday Wil Wheaton (another reason for my nerdiness - I believe I´ve already told you how big my crush on his fourteen year old self was) quoted Patton Oswalt on nerds/geeks:
A lot of nerds aren't aware they're nerds. A geek has thrown his hands up to the universe and gone, "I speak Klingon — who am I fooling? You win! I'm just gonna openly like what I like." Geeks tend to be a little happier with themselves.
I never did reach the heights of roleplaying and Magic for nerdiness (or speaking Klingon for that matter, although I did write an essay on the Elvish language). A brief attempt at getting into that whole "I´m a Warrior Wizard Dark Elf questing here. Out of my way, for with my number 20 dice I shall freeze you and you shall suffer 10 damage points. Mwwhahah" proved a dismal failure and I just never "got" that Magic thing. But I was still a nerd, a geek, and by late highschool had made peace with myself and just liked what I liked. Finding a group of people who revelled in their geeky nerdiness with me made me feel like I´d come home. An intrepid traveller who´d spent years wandering the barren desert of teenage girls with boofy hair and too much makeup whose major discussion topics revolved around whose boyfriend would buy them jewellery first and "Like, Oh My God did you see what she was wearing?" while I was seeking refuge in the library and the myriad worlds contained therein.
Thesedays I don´t really notice my geekiness anymore. Perhaps because the cool people have faded into the woodwork while the geeks have inherited the new technological earth. Perhaps I´m still too surrounded by scientists. Now, all those interests which caused severe ostracizing for teenagers--computers, computer games, whizz bang gadgets (unless it was cars - they were always cool), scifi, books, bad hair, talking about something interesting and not just gossip--now these are more accepted, more common.
But are they any less nerdy? Are you less of one for being into that now than I was in high school? I mean, it´s not me that´s currently wasting time on Warcraft you know....