Sunday, June 21, 2009

Finally accepting (and embracing) being a nerd
In middle school, it was every student's nightmare.

The three year bridge between elementary school and high school is for most people the hardest in an educational career. Kids are mean to each other for no reason. The slightest blemish -- physical or emotional -- can make you a target of bullies.

I still remember the first time I was called a nerd. I still had the size of an elementary school student while everyone around me seemed to be getting bigger. I also wore glasses and was pushed around.

But when the bully called me a nerd, I was hurt. I had seen Saved By The Bell and its characterization of those types. I didn't want to be my class's Screech Powers or Max Nerdstrom.

I fought the label, but with little success. I was always smaller than the other kids, and was prone to speaking my mind instead of conforming to what the jocks were into.

High school was much better, as students grew out of whatever issues they had and found little groups to hang out in.

I was in choir, on the school TV station, and was still barely 5-foot-five in my sophomore year. But I got along with most kids in my class.

Still, the label was hanging out there. I remember a good friend of mine making a comment like, "You do have to admit, you do have some nerd-like qualities."

Looking back, I probably wouldn't have parted with those qualities if given an opportunity. I'd never want to give up my ability to quote Monty Python and the Holy Grail word-for-word (with, I might add, good vocal impersonations tossed in). I'd never want to give up my Mystery Science Theater DVDS, or my Steve Winwood Back in the High Life CD.

What is the benefit of pretending to like hip-hop music over old-school country or the occasional Journey song?

And what was the point of using the word "like" all the time to fit in?

My best friend and I spent a half hour Friday night playing a game where we listed every Cleveland Indian we could think of. The only rule was you couldn't repeat a name.

I threw out names like Scott Bailes, Oscar Gamble and Ray Chapman. My friend countered with Bob Feller, Steve Craft and Candy Maldanado.

Pretty sweet game if you ask me.

When describing the game to my family, my brother implied that I was a nerd.

My mother jumped to my defense. I cut her off.

"Trust me," I told her, "I'm a nerd."

After 17 years, I finally have realized that being a nerd isn't all that bad. Movies like Superbad, Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin and the TV show Chuck even celebrate it.

Perhaps, as said by a character on Chuck, the 21st Century does belong to the geek.

My time has come.



At 10:47 PM , Blogger Mike said...

Brook Jacoby, Cory Snyder, Tom Candiotti

At 10:49 PM , Blogger Mike said...

Enrique Wilson, Alvaro Espinosa, Ruben Amaro, Wayne Kirby

...I take 'nerd' as a compliment.


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