The TV show I’m currently obsessed with is Battlestar Galactica.
When it comes to my favorite bands, I’m like an encyclopedia.
I know so many mindless pop culture factoids from my teenage years that my husband thinks I cheat at ’90s Trivial Pursuit.
The summer home improvement project I’m most excited about? A huge bookcase that my father-in-law is building for me that will span an entire dining room wall – because my other five bookcases overflowed a long time ago and the stacks on the floor are getting unwieldy.
Yep, no doubt about it: I’m a nerd. And I’m proud of it.
At least I’m proud now.
I don’t remember the first time someone called me a nerd – or perhaps they used “geek” or “dork” – but I’m sure I probably cried or at least wanted to. I was a sensitive little kid who wanted everyone to like her.
I do remember letting the popular girls in my fifth grade class copy my math homework thinking it would help me gain their acceptance. That may have been the thing that got me called a nerd. (Though the joke was on them because this dweeb has never been that great at math!)
So if I wasn’t a math whiz and no one but my little brother and my equally dorky best friend knew that I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation every night, how did I end up getting the geek rep?
Because my high-level reading skills landed me in the gifted program at school. Initially, I was excited about this because it meant new learning opportunities, which I’d always loved.
As soon as I mastered reading, I begged to be taken to the library because there were so many books on so many topics to absorb. I wanted to learn how plants grew, and how people lived in different countries a thousand years before, and I wanted to imagine what it might be like to live in the future.
But then I got mocked for being in the gifted program. Being a kid who got good grades and did homework and liked it (except for math) because she enjoyed learning was Not Cool. This is a concept I still don’t understand.
Rather than being angry at the kids who ridiculed me (like I was for most of my teen years), I grew to feel sorry for anyone who chose conformity over curiosity.
In my opinion, geeks/dorks/nerds are just people who want to learn as much as they can about the world. And shouldn’t we all want to do that? Don’t we all have at least one thing that we’re obsessed with knowing everything about to the point where it could be said that we “geek out” over it?
Fortunately, it’s the summer of the geek-out here in Forest Park:
For car nerds like my husband, there’s Forest Park Cruise Night (which we haven’t been able to attend yet because of Mother Nature). Book nerds like me can participate in the library’s summer reading program and win gift certificates to local restaurants (but that Blue Max gift certificate is mine).
And for the all-around nerd, the library is hosting its first Trivia Night at the Beacon Pub on Wednesday, July 14. Our planned opening of this was canceled – the Hawks’ Stanley Cup win! – so that, we hope, just gave you more time to study up.
Don’t worry, I’ll be slinging drinks that night, so you won’t have to worry about competing with my dorky literature, music, sci-fi, or ’90s pop culture knowledge.
May the best team of nerds win!
Stephanie is the author of “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone” and “Ballads of Suburbia.” She’s a proud Forest Parker who holds a master’s in fine arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. She also works locally at the Beacon Pub and loves to hear from people through her Web site www.stephaniekuehnert.com.