I was aware when I was in high school that I was a nerd. Really, how many teenagers could give you the hierarchy of all the kings and queens of the entire British Isles? What I didn't realize was that it's not something that you outgrow.
According to Wikipedia a nerd refers to a person who passionately pursues intellectual activities, esoteric knowledge, or other obsure interests rather than engaging in more social or popular activities. Oh, God, I really didn't need the confirmation, but there it is. While I hope that I have learned to throw a realistic cloak over my social awkwardness, I still find myself drawn to obscure, esoteric pursuits to the exclusion of most normal activities. (That may be one reason that I was hesitant to start blogging--the possibility that I might take it to some bizarre extreme.)
My friends, both then and now, are very sweet and understanding about my peculiar disconnect from reality. They even treat me like a normal person, but despite their kind efforts, I am frequently reminded that I am a nerd. There are those awkward moments when I hear myself making inane conversation because I know the moment calls for conversation but I have no clue what I should say! Then I scurry back to playing my brain games until something or someone forces me out again.
If I thought it was tough being a teenage nerd, I didn't reckon on what it would be like to be a middle-age nerd! I really didn't mind getting caught wearing two different color socks when I was sixteen. Now I have to adopt a whole persona that acts like it's cool to wear mismatched clothing and forget what day of the week it is. I'm aware that I'm not totally dysfunctional, but I have more than my fair share of moments when I'm not completely in touch with what's going on around me. If it weren't for the fact that I was exactly the same as an adolescent, I might think I was slipping into early senility.
Stressful situations, an abundance of which seem to fill my life currently, bring out my nerdy tendencies. It is so much easier to scuttle into my shell and play word games and read books about existential questions regarding consciousness (An Alchemy of Mind by Diane Ackerman--great book). Social is hard. Pretending to be normal is hard--pretending being the operative word. Someone pointed out recently that my tote-bag with its side pocket full of pens was exposing my inner nerd--if they only knew!
As if all of these revelations were not disturbing enough, I have had the dismaying realization that nerdiness may be genetic. My eldest son, who has always exhibited too many similarities to his mother, threw a birthday party this week for H.P. Lovecraft, dead sci-fi, horror writer. The party included streamers, partyware, and themed food offerings--including a Cthulhu cake (creepy tentacled monster creation of Lovecraft's). While I was delightfully tickled with his bizarre creativity, I had a thump-your-head-V8 moment when I realized I had given birth to a next generation nerd. Wow, I wonder what kind of karma you accumulate for that!
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