Being a geek is no longer geeky. Role-playing games are being used in classrooms, “graphic novels” are considered literature, conferences about geek pop culture are in major cities with thousands of attendees, and every cool kid is going to see the latest Harry Potter in the theaters. After this movie about magic and monsters, what’s the next most popular thing around? Vampire love. Yeah, times have changed.
Back in my day (creak of my ergonomic office chair) fantasy and science fiction were lumped into one genre: nerd. And that wasn’t a good thing. It was a lonely thing. Years ago there was no Harry Potter phenomenon, The Lord of the Rings had yet to come to theaters, and Star Wars consisted of three movies from the last decade. I would bring novels I was reading into school, and kids would peer at the cover with some fiery demon being fought by a sword-wielding warrior.
“Huh…you’re into that stuff?”
Yes, yes I was. I loved fantasy adventure books, especially if they had some humor. (The Xanth series was particularly amusing in junior high.) Never once did anyone look at my book and reveal that they were into that “stuff” too. Maybe that’s why I kept bringing my books in. Not just to keep me from being bored in class, but in that hopes I would find my geeky tribe. Interestingly, I had friends. They just weren’t geeks. The only two kids in school that, in retrospect, may have been geeky were two Chinese boys that read manga. But at the time, that was considered weirder than my stuff.
I did book reports on The Hobbit and The Illustrated Man. Other students in my class were confused as to why, but didn’t say too much about it. I was more known for my musical ability than the books I read. I never showed anyone the fantasy stories I wrote at home, not because I was embarrassed, but because I didn’t think anyone would be interested in them.
Like many geeks, I was introduced to the culture through my family — mainly my dad’s love of science fiction books and movies. The introduction came early when I hid under the seat at four years old during The Empire Strikes Back. My dad still laughs while telling that story. Amazingly, I wasn’t scarred too much, and grew up with a love of the unexplained and fantastic. When I first met my husband, I was dumbfounded that someone else read the same books as I did. Plus, he had had friends all through junior and high school that did too. His uncle had introduced him to Role Playing Games, he showed the game to his friends, and that was their main source of entertainment. I couldn’t imagine being with a whole group of people that liked fantasy. Is it any wonder I married this man?
Then along came a book about a boy wizard with a scar on his forehead, and now my kids and their friends happily declare, “I’m geeked!” You whippersnappers have no idea how good you have it. No, no, you don’t. And I’m thrilled.