Monday, July 4, 2011

People Who Like Things

My brother once told me that a nerd is just a "person who likes things." And I feel like that was a revelation that was so simple, so perfectly worded, and so damn accurate, that it pretty much changed my life. So I'm here today to perform a public service. I hope to pass on the nerdy wisdom, from brother nerd to blog-writing nerd to blog-reading nerd, so that you may benefit from this Book of Nerdist Teachings. Because I'm not just here to help myself blossom into a social butterfly; I want to help you get there too! And if you're a nerd, then part of that involves getting over the fact that you're a damn nerd.

Ok. So. I was a nerdy kid. And a lot of people say that they were nerdy kids, but most of them are just reflecting their own sense of social awkwardness they felt as children. So believe me when I say I was a nerd, I mean I was a fucking nerd. I was a thick-glasses-wearing, big-words-using, good-at-math bookworm with no sense of fashion or talent in sports. Always picked last for the team in gym class, always missing the dirty jokes that went right over my head, always the butt of a joke without really knowing it - that was me. I actually struck out in tee-ball. I have gotten in trouble on multiple occasions for reading at the dinner table and, when I was eight, I got in a fight with my best friend because I thought she used the F-word (she didn't) and I didn't want to be friends with someone who swore. 

This is what I looked like, at the approximate age of nine or ten. Note the book in each hand; it wasn't unusual for me to have more than one on the go.

Webster's Dictionary defines the word "nerd" with this image and no further explanation.

Now, being a nerdy kid is dangerous business. I am grateful, to this day, that the bullies who picked on me were never the ass-kicking type bullies and were more the soul-crushing type bullies. I was, however, a sensitive kid, and having one's soul crushed day in and day out can do some damage to the psyche. It got so bad that my mom - bless her - actually appealed to the school board to let me change schools between grade five and six. Her parental outrage won me the right to attend a public school across town and out of jurisdiction. That's right: my nerdism was so strong it overrode the government.

So suffice it to say that when I entered adolescence, I became super afraid of my nerdiness. Like many other nerdlings who are poised to grow into fully formed nerdmasters, I was terrified of social ostracization. So I tried, really hard, to go bad. I pierced things and tattooed other things and exposed skin that made my poor parents weep. I drank. I dabbled lightly, but enthusiastically, in non-hard-drug use. None of this is necessarily that shocking - I won't suggest that I was some sort of rebellious dangercase heading straight for self-destruction and juvey hall. It was pretty after-school-special in the end; typical, mostly harmless, adolescent rebellion that my parents just kind of dealt with, knowing I'd grow out of it. But through all my attempted badassery, I never, even once, turned my back on school; I guess I felt like the piercings and belly tops gave me enough street cred to continue being a bookworm and to vie for academic success. I won't say I was a perfect student - oh, I skipped classes, I got detentions, I slacked a little on some projects - but I was a good student, for the most part, and rarely got a grade lower than A.

Now, I am 27. I am a real grown-up and a whole teenager older than I was when I started all this fear of nerdly associations. But I'm still a fucking nerd (although clearly, I am no longer afraid of people who swear). I have seen Back to the Future approximately 12,000 times. I watch, and get excited about, Glee. I go to Chinese take-out restaurants and cringe at the atrocious grammar in the menus. I like to try and stump my friends with riddles, and one time I actually got out a pen and paper and worked out the mathematical formula that made a particular card trick possible. I make bad puns like it's my job (and I'm earning billions). I sewed my cats Halloween costumes to make them look like Nintendo characters. I play board games with the enthusiasm of a frog in a fly factory. I use phrases like "a frog in a fly factory." I blog, for Christ's sake. And oh, my lord, do I read. Still, sometimes, more than one book at a time. Still sometimes at the dinner table (but I can't get in trouble for it now!). And I will go home from work today rereading the last Harry Potter book for the gajillionth time in anticipation of the premiere of Deathly Hallows Part 2. Which I have already purchased tickets for, weeks in advance, and will attend in a Gryffindor scarf - in the middle of July.

But the thing is, all of this seriously just boils down to what my brother said: I like things. Whether those things are Harry Potter, Glee, proper spelling or the mathematical formulae of card tricks - I just plain like stuff. And that's such an awesome fucking way to look at it! Nerds are, after all, the epitome of optimism. (And my nerdbrother, who wrote a nerdspeech about optimism and won awards and stuff for his nerdiness, would know.) Show a nerd the trailer or even the poster for an upcoming movie that looks pretty epic, and he or she will pop a nerdboner. Ask a nerd to help you edit their resume, and he or she will become stoned on the sheer nerdphoria that is grammar rules and design. Tell a nerd that the zombie apocalypse is starting, and he or she will be abolutely, nerdaliciously giddy that it's actually fucking happening.

All this boils down to one thing: positivity. And who the hell ever said that was bad? Holy Christkicking cows, nerdism is about joy, folks! It's about feeling like a kid on Christmas morning when you find a good Youtube video about linguistics or receive a hilariously-shaped meat spear as a gift. It's about experiencing that youthful, wide-eyed wonder all over again when you see a really awesome Super Mario cake.

So I am no longer ashamed of my nerdiness. I am proud to like things. I think everyone should like things. Liking things is far, far superior to disliking things. Disliking things leads to hate and fear and ignorance and war. Liking things leads to love and friendship and laughter and creation. NERDS ARE PEACE.

So, my friends, I am creating a new entire section of my blog in honour of the fact that nerds are just people who fucking like things and that is awesome, and every nerd out there should stand up and cry out and declare that yes, we are nerds, and we are proud, and we are not afraid of our nerdism anymore, or at least not as afraid of that as we are of the ball!

So, go check it out, yo. It will be devoted to various lists of awesome things, or essays about other awesome things, or excited ramblings about upcoming awesomenesses that I am getting really psyched about. And it's called "Them Juicy Leaves" because I have no idea what caterpillars get excited about, but I imagine they're pretty into leaves.

And I am devoting the very first column to the ultimate nerdthing in my nerdcloset: Harry Potter! Yeah, that's right. Go read about Harry Potter and why it's so awesome and why you're missing out on life if you don't read/watch/dream about Harry Potter. And I feel like if I didn't honour my Muggledom somehow in blog form in anticipation of the eighth and final film, I would be the worst muggle ever. I don't even care that you're making fun of me right now.

Because I'm a fucking nerd who likes Harry Potter, and like will always kick hate's ass - and in this case, with the force of a Blast-Ended Skrewt.

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