Originally written for eVent! magazine [ep] on January 26th, 2006.
I have a girlfriend now, a turn of events that is quite unusual for me. We’ve been together for about a month, and like most new relationships it’s a slow process of finding out who each other are, were and want to be. In any relationship like this there’s a terrible moment when you realize that you have to tell her the truth, you have to let her know you’re a geek. Errr…. I mean I have to let her know I’m a geek.
You might not think this is a big thing. Certainly despite a sizeable comic collection, and a somewhat unhealthy obsession with Superman, Nicholas Cage has been able to lead a fairly successful life. Our new Prime Minister Stephen Harper is an admitted Star Trek fan, and he’s going to be running this big whole country. Bill Gates is a total dork and he’s really rich, and dorky. Well Gates might be a bad example, but you get the point. People with nerd tendencies can live fulfilling lives. There are just some things you’re going to have to understand about us.
The first sign of nerdness will probably be a fascination with gadgets. Simple daily tasks like writing in a diary or scheduling an appointment will be turned into a chance to use a complex piece of technology. Why take a picture with a film camera when you can take it with your cell phone and post it to a website three seconds later? Why vacuum when a robot can vacuum for you? This is actually a deeply optimistic behaviour, as us gadget hounds know that one more piece of battery-operated technology holds the promise of a better, happier and more productive life. Surely this sheer blind optimism is if not a particular seductive trait then at least not a detrimental one.
Then of course most notably there is the geeky fanboy love we might have for things that others think are childish, or silly. Knowing the names of all the original X-Men, both their code names and their real names, might seem like useless knowledge and of course it is. But then how much more useful is it to know the batting order of a World Series Winning Baseball team or the Prime Minister of Bulgaria. Why is having deep convictions about which car engines are more impressive more important than having deep convictions between whether Captain Kirk or Captain Picard were better?
As the main character in the first film adaptation of Nick Hornby’s book on growing up a fan of the English football club Arsenal asks:
“Why is it that adults aren't supposed to go mad about anything? You gotta keep a lid on it. And if you don't then people are apparently entitled to say what they like. ‘You haven't grown up. You're a moron. Your conversation is trivial and boorish. You can't express your emotional needs. You can't relate to your children.’ And you die, lonely and miserable. But you know, what the hell, every cloud has a silver lining.”
Breaking it to her has been a slow process. At first it was just subtle hints dropped in conversation, pointing out the store where I buy comics during an afternoon walk for example. Slowly it dawned on her the sheer scope of the dork factor, especially when I took a special trip down to Seattle to visit a science fiction museum and returned with an egregiously nerdy Starfleet Academy t-shirt. Yet she’s decided that as long as I keep my promise never to wear said egregiously nerdy Starfleet Academy t-shirt around her or her friends.
Seems like a fair deal. Step two, let her know I’m a semi-employed writer.