Monday, June 8, 2009

Nerds, unite (except Trekkies)!

My Mac dictionary offers, among others, this definition: an intelligent, single-minded expert in a particular technical skill or discipline.

Before I buffet the reader with the blustery gale of my nerdiness, I’m going to state that everyone fits the above description to some degree — some obviously more than others.

Take me, for example. I like to think of myself as a person possessing basic social graces. For instance, I have enough sense to avoid interrupting people when they’re speaking. I can sense when a particular action would be unacceptable in polite company, like telling generic, endless stories about my mission or setting fire to my eyebrows. I like to think that I can survive socially.

But I do have one nerdy vice.

Before my mission, you could pick out some minor character from the background of any movie and I could tell you that person’s backstory, home planet, and lightsaber color. I have a cabinet back home of Star Wars paraphernalia, including a limited-edition Revenge of the Sith cereal box and the entire set of Star Wars Pez dispensers — except that pesky R2-D2 one, which has so far eluded me. My bedroom here at college has three separate representations of Darth Vader.

Am I a nerd? Yeah, and proud of it.

Do I still have standards? Of course. For those of you still subsisting in woeful ignorance, Star Wars and Star Trek are two totally different franchises; the first is cool and the latter is nothing more than a cheap science fair dressed up with some semblance of plot and character development.

(If I get letters to the editor about that one, I will truly consider it the highlight of my writing career.)

But there are other ways of being nerdy. I have several roommates who stare at the TV like it’s some sort of primitive idol, sacrificing their spare time to the heathen gods of ESPN. There’s nothing wrong with this, but when I hear them spouting off facts about the winners of the Heisman Trophy or the last three coaches of the Lakers, I smile to myself. We all have our own kind of nerdiness, don’t we?

Everyone’s head contains some sort of useless information, whether it’s the home planet of Luke Skywalker (Tatooine), the best way to win Guitar Hero (set fire to the guitar console) or the only person to win the Heisman Trophy twice (Frodo Baggins).

A nerd is nothing more than a person with a passion. We’ve all got passions. Some people cook. Some people play golf. Some people sing. As long as we have a hobby to divert our time from the demands of reality, we are nerds.

Show me a person who claims he’s not a nerd, and I’ll show you a person who has no life.

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