Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I Was A Teenage Nerd: Birth of a Nerd

Let's take a look at my formative years, shall we?

When brainstorming this entry, I originally wanted to pinpoint the exact moment that I became a nerd. However, I quickly realized this is impossible. I've always been a nerd. It's in the very fiber of my being. I was born a nerd, and there's photographic evidence to prove it.

Long ago, in the deep and foggy days of high school, part of my good-natured drama club hazing was bringing in a baby picture of myself to be posted on the department bulletin board, in full view of the whole school (if they passed by that particular spot). When I asked my mom for one, she vanished into her scrapbook cave and returned moments later with a shot of me in my Johnny Jump-Up, holding a little book in front of me. I'm fairly sure it had no words (and a soft velvet bunny on the cover), but that's beside the point. The point is, at the tender age of 18 months, I was a card-carrying nerd.

So I guess I was doomed. In daycare, I was just as likely to be sitting in the canoe in the small side room reading a Hardy Boys book as playing with the blocks. (Although those were some damn cool blocks. Combine with a bucket of army men and it's "Assault on Fort Zinderneuf!") The trend continued into my school days; I remember wearing a hole in the fourth grade beanbags (or was it third grade? Lost to the mists of time) whilst working my way through The Lord of the Rings the first time. I was (and probably still remain) the only person in my class who could recite, by title, the plotlines of every Ducktales episode, and would at the slightest provocation. I know I'm the only person who got the "Oxydize" joke in the Simpsons pilot episode before he hit puberty. And when the video game bug went around, I caught that one too, far worse than anyone else I knew; I'm pretty sure that my review of "The Secret of Evermore" is the only one to date to appear in a junior high publication.

I enjoyed being a nerd. In fact, I may have enjoyed it a bit too much; allowing my early obsessions to consume so much of my young life probably explains why, in the seventh grade, I woke to the realization that I didn't really have any friends. At a time when most boys give up comics, I found out that my comics were all I had. And that may explain why I held on so tightly, even in the midst of some of the worst storylines ever put to paper. Spider-Man was the only guy I knew damn well wasn't going to run out on me in the middle of the most tumultuous time in my life; how could I toss him aside?

I'm doing better now, thankfully. I've tempered my nerd-dom with a more social approach. Still a long way to go, but I'm making progress. But the memories are still with me. Some good, some bad, a lot both. I couldn't help being a nerd, and I didn't understand then what I was missing. But I can look back now and maybe, just maybe, learn some lessons that will help me on my way.

And maybe you, too.

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