When I was six years old, I realized I was a geek.
My older cousin asked me if I wanted to join the Boy Scouts. I just started school and I was familiar with cycle I was recently introduced to. Go to school. Weekends you sit around and wait to go back. This Boy Scout thing was an option, and idea, something I could do if I wanted to, if the wind carried me. And I studied it and looked at all the stuff the Boy Scouts would do. Play outside. Camp. What else? Build things? Tie knots? Stuff like that? I looked at my Cousin, me being six and the size of a small dog.
“Nope,” I said.
“Why not?” My cousin asked.
“Because that shit looks stupid,” I said.
I got a nice whipping for the swear word, but the gauntlet had been thrown down. I stated my position. I knew where I wanted to go. I was, and forever would be, uninterested in the crap that ordinary boys did. It just didn’t appeal to me. Hang out outside? Where would I plug the television in? I understood then and understand now that there is value to spending time outdoors, to enjoy nature. But I also understood then that there are options, ways to spend your free time. You don’t have to do “X”. You can do “Y”. And “Y” I did. All day. Every day.
First it was the Westerns, these grainy stories where the hero knocked people out with one punch. He shot guns and rode horses and yelled and was friends with the red man. Then there were Kung-Fu movies, complex tangos between foes that hated each other for complicated, abstract reasons. Your style is different from mine. You shamed my father. You killed my mother. Real problems being fixed with the fist and the sword and the staff. Then came my savior, the one piece of artwork that changed my entire perception of the world.
“What’s this?” I asked my mother, walking past the television, heading towards the kitchen.
“I think they are calling it Star Trek,” my mother said, standing, folding clothes. “Star Trek: The Next Generation or something like that.”
I couldn’t move.
Captain Picard was not young or super-handsome or blonde. He was old. Really old. And he didn’t have any hair. And, huh? He wasn’t even an American! How can this be on television? A guy was blind. The head of security was a woman? One of the characters was robot. There was a ship councilor to help the crew handle emotional problems? And the ship? The Enterprise? The ship looked like a dream of some sort, some alien mechanism that should not exist but some how did, this absurd craft that defied physics and sailed through space like a radical dream. SNG saved my life. It helped funnel my energies. I didn’t have to play sports if I didn’t want to. I didn’t have to be super-tough or super-tall. I didn’t have to be a Captain Kirk. I could be a Captain Picard.
That, to me, is at the heart of being a geek, or being a nerd, or being a geeky nerdy or a nerdy geek. Choices. Nothing is beyond us. Our obsessions are limitless. We love the vastness. A stereotype is too narrow for us. Trying to fit us into a genre is a fruitless action. We exist everywhere. That is why we can acknowledge the military brilliance of Commander Adama in Battlestar Galactia and admire the physical prowess of Spider-man. That is why Batman is so revered to us, a pinnacle of human ability and why we worship Superman, the embodiment of our aspirations. We are Nerds. That is what we are. And trying to lay a definition on us is a waste of time. We can’t even see our boundaries.