If you’re reading this, you’re probably not all too entirely different than me. You know what I mean, you dive hard into fictitious places, develop serious concerns over fictional characters, have a penchant for hero worship, probably struggle with a lifelong chronic case of low self esteem and social awkwardness. Maybe you get a little too excited about things, and whenever the subject of your particular interest comes up in a group, you suddenly burst out of your usual nervous shell to wax on a little too loudly in a desperate effort to inform everyone within earshot that you are hands down the one and only bonafide expert on this subject due to decades of exhaustive research and study and by golly everyone else who claims the same title is a Johnny-come-lately poser-ass neckbeard.
They have a name for us. The “g-word”. We can say, it but they can’t. Say it with me, “We are geeks.”
We are devourers of comic books and science fiction and fantasy novels. We are the eaters of hours spent completing a game. We are the chroniclers and cataloguers of decades long motion picture sagas. We are the cheerleaders of boy wizards, caped crusaders, and laser-sword wielding space knights. We are the defenders of misunderstood anti-heroes, unpopular time traveling doctors and potions professors who did it all for unrequited love.
Most importantly of all, for those of us that blazed that trail way back in the 1970s and ‘80s, we are the ones who did it before it was cool. We faced daily ridicule and occasional physical violence for such alleged crimes as having robots on our t-shirts or odd-looking polyhedral dice spilling from our off-brand backpacks in the school lunchroom. This was long before basic bros could rock a Black Panther shirt (bought at a department store in the mall, no less) to the latest theatrical Avengers release. This was before handsome TV werewolves and shaven-headed furious car drivers told the world that D&D was actually cool. No, in our day, it was socially forbidden. A one-way ticket to wedgie-town.
However, in time, we all managed to somehow survive. We ate our lunches in the library at school. Or found a secluded spot outside that was far enough away from the cool kids’ game of “Smear the Queer” to evade notice, where we could be left alone with our tattered copies of paperback books emblazoned with names like “Asimov” or “Burroughs” or “Tolkien”. If we were really lucky, we would find others like ourselves. This was most ideal because then you could form a sort of protective pack. Sure, you all still stood the risk of being hunted by a much larger pack of alpha-social-carnivores, but it did help even the odds that you’d get home from school that day without a wad of wet school-bathroom single ply toilet paper to the right side of your face.
The added benefit of forming a geek clan was that you now had others like you to trade comics with, take over the player two joystick on the 2600 or to really get that epic dungeon crawl campaign off the ground. Huzzah! Mountain Dew and Cheetos for all!
But times have changed. The geeks have inherited the Earth. Comics became literature, sci-fi and fantasy movies have become multi-movie story arcs and tentpole summer blockbusters with lines of people around the corner on opening night, and gaming is now… get this… a sport. Yes, there’s a bit of bitterness there, I’m not going to lie. But being an old pro at being a geek does now give some of us a sort of elevated place in today’s social hierarchy. And that beats a wad of wet toilet paper to the face any day.
So now we are here, and we are legion. We are living in a golden age of geekery. And as we all swarm together in that swirling, sweaty mass of humanity known as a comic book convention, it’s nice to know that we are all in this together, celebrating our fandoms, raising our heroes on high and justifying our lives spent submerged in all that which was once considered “uncool”. Yes, many of us can now admit proudly that we are geeks.
But not many of us can look back on the exact moment in time when they became one. I, on the other hand, can…
Welcome to my collection of stories of my youth. I hope you enjoy my journey from budding geek to full grown professional man-child.
Nicely done! I anxiously look forward to more stories of your journey thru geekdom! Now you realize that I know quite a few of these stories, but by no means all of them and certainly not thru your enlightened eyes! My love always!
Reading through this, I saw my Geek life flash before my eyes. It was both glorious and at times, as you stated for yours, the target of others who didn’t understand and needed to embarrass us, so they could feel better about themselves. The road traveled has been long, but the journey has lead to this renaissance for Geek culture. We’re finally able to bask in its glow as society has come to accept us and swell are ranks with new Geeks from around the world. “I’m A Geek!”
I proudly claim “nerd” and “geek” as badges of honor. I was beat up in grade school, considered weird in high school. but I found other nerds who came from other towns and we were so un-cool that we became ultra cool.