I couldn’t have decided to be a geek any more than I could have decided to be a white girl born in Minnesota. I came this way.
One of the first presents I can remember wanting is a microscope. I got one when I was 9, and I played with it constantly. I looked at the difference between sugar crystals and salt crystals. I looked at a strand of my hair versus a strand of my mom’s hair. I pricked my finger over and over and looked at my blood. I loved the slides, the way they’d click together. I loved the cover glass squares, and how delicate they were. I would hold them in my hands and feel their tiny sharp edges press into my palms. I looked at water droplets, and at flower petals, and anything I could cram onto a slide and shove under the lens.
When I was 11, my best friend Abbi and I decided we were in love with two awesome guys. Michaelangelo and Raphael. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, they may be non-human mutants who are constantly in danger, but that did nothing to stop our love. For the record, my boyfriend was Raphael. His cool but rude sarcastic attitude thrilled me. Abbi preferred the party dude, with his radical catchphrases and happy-go-lucky smile. Please, nunchuks? No way, dude. Sai for life! Man, I loved that turtle.
My obsessions grew in number and never diminished in burning passion. I know everything about U2, particularly about Paul Hewson (oh, you laypeople know him as Bono). I memorized Shakespeare passages I particularly loved. I bought X-Files magazines and made collages out of them. I know every single word to the musicals Rent, Phantom of the Opera, and Miss Saigon. I was posting on dial-up Citadel BBSes before most people even owned a computer. I have read every single book Stephen King has written at least once, and most of them I’ve read more than 10 times. I never just liked something, I devoured it.
But to me, being a geek isn’t just about obsessing over things you like. If that were the case, anyone who watches every college football game they can manage would be a geek, and I personally don’t believe that’s true. To me, being a geek involves not fitting in, feeling weird, feeling like an outcast if not genuinely being outcast by your peers. I had few friends growing up, and those I did have, I tended to suffocate with my intensity and strangeness.
I know it’s become very chic these days to say, “I’m so weird! I have all these adorable quirks!” While I don’t begrudge those people the things they think make them weird, I feel that those same people were the ones in school who told me I was from another planet and that no one would ever like me if I didn’t stop being so weird. (In one memorable incident, I was talking to my running shoes and my socks and they were talking back to me, in their voices but using my mouth. This was not abnormal for me, and I always assumed other people did it, too. They don’t. Or so I’m told. I still do this, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop doing it. Lucky for me, my husband doesn’t mind it one bit. He does sometimes ask things like, “Why does the stove have a British accent?” but that’s a fair question. It’s a Kenmore, it has no right to be British, really. The thing is, it watches too much BBC and is extremely affectatious. Like Madonna.)
I don’t like a lot of people. When I say this, people usually laugh, because they think I’m kidding. I’m not. I don’t like a lot of people. I usually know within 15 minutes if I like someone or not. There are rare cases of people who have grown on me. There are more cases of people who have worn on me and I’ve changed my mind about liking them. That being said, when I like someone, they have my undying support and fandom. (Unlike U2. Man, they suck these days, amirite?) This is why I love My People, the geeks, the nerds, the social outcasts, the aspies, the trolls. I don’t have to like every single one of them as an individual (and believe me, I don’t) but I will fight to the death for their right to fly their freak flag and be fucking weird. This is why I love CONvergence. This is why I love Renaissance Festival. Unashamedly, in costume, living the dream of my youth: surrounded by people who see my weirdness and raise me one.
I’m a geek because I’m Molly, and I was born this way. I’ve been one of the weirdest people I know for my entire life, and I hope that never changes. I don’t think it could. I honestly tried to be more normal when I was in high school and I’m telling you, it really didn’t work out. You know how when an alien in a movie tries to act human, it makes people even more wary of it? Like when the bug was wearing the Vincent D’Onofrio skinsuit in Men In Black? That was me trying to be normal. Lurching all around, asking for sugar in water. It’s just easier to be me.