Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mopping Up Culture Vomit: Thanking the Geek


My Friday night, circa 2000: home from school by 3:30, on my computer until 6, dropped off (naturally, by my mom) by Wild Card at 7. She didn't cook me dinner because we usually ordered a giant greasy pizza.

Wild Card hosted weekly Magic: the Gathering tournaments. MTG (nobody called it that) now holds a fond place in my heart, but at that time it was just something the geeky kids did. I didn't have a burning passion for Magic; I just couldn't play sports (I couldn't even play Magic all that well), and there was nothing better to do on a Friday night.

Except maybe playing Zelda: Majora's Mask on the N64. Damn the haters; I loved loved loved that game (and yes, Water Temple 2 was impossible without a guide).

But I wouldn't trumpet my "taste" in video games at the time. Give eighth-grade me a pulpy story and some magic, and I'm there. Final Fantasies 4-10 (Japanese numbering, naturally), Chrono Trigger, Xenosaga; give me your tired, your weak, your effeminate weirdo main characters. I might have even teased some engrossing narrative out of Pokemon (Ash is weird and effeminate enough).

Same rules applied to television and movies. I don't think I truly enjoyed a live action movie without Chewbacca in it until I discovered (gloriously, like Indiana Jones discovering the ark of the convenient sans face-melting) Kevin Smith early in my high school career. I dwelt almost exclusively in the realm of giant robots (Evangelion), big-titty Japanese dream girls (Evangelion), and weirdo effeminate main characters (Evangelion). Tenchi, Ranma (was that his/her name? Whoever the main character was in the show where the guy turned into a girl and the dad turned into a fucking panda), and Goku were some of my other besties.

I played Pokemon cards. I had bad skin. I was chunky and poorly-dressed. One time, perhaps for the sake of completeness, I tried to get into Dungeons & Dragons (when it was still called AD&D and TSR hadn't started calling itself Wizards of the Coast). That I was unmoved is either heartening or even more pathetic.

Why the sudden onslaught of geek-nostalgia, you ask? A basement-cleaning, naturally.

So I found the Magic cards. And the issues of Animerica (only the most popular professional American anime magazine of the 1990's!). And the Pokemon-card guide book.

And just like the sentimental cheeseball I am, I smiled wistfully.

I am not ashamed of my geekyness. Because, even though I don't wear Boba Fett t-shirts anymore, my geekyness is at the core of my personality. I'm a youth leader at a local church, and our last discussion group was about expectations for college. I argued that college should be the place where you embrace your inner geek (or attempt, in vain, to push it away with frats and Coors Light). It's the place where you find people as geeky as you (even if they're not geeky for the same reason). Maybe you don't call it geekyness; maybe you call it passion.

On this Thanksgiving, I give thanks for my geekyness. It's what makes me self-aware. It's what makes me thankful I can talk to girls. It's what makes me passionate about something other than professional sports.

Be thankful for your geekyness. Because if you're not a geek, you're just another turd in the cantaloupe patch.

Jordan Pedersen went stag to the homecoming dance that followed that picture. But look at those adorable chubby cheeks.