Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s put me right in the middle of this wave of “Nerdom,” if I may coin a phrase. I watched and read all the classics, I knew every line. I remember arguing at recess about who got to be Duke or who got to be Optimus Prime and so on. We would race home after school to get our daily intake of cartoons and stay abreast of the latest commercials. So we knew what to bug our parents about to buy when we went to the mall. Long skinny sticks were swords, the ones with the wishbone shape were guns and trashcan lids were shields. We had the most epic quests and most righteous battles in my neighborhood. We would have intense discussions about super powers and space travel. We would play NES until our parents would call and threaten to whoop our butts for not being home! It was the most glorious time in the world, anything was within our grasp.
Then as my friends and I became middle school students everything began to change. Those friends I had spent hours playing He-Man with after school began to turn on me. Suddenly it was not cool to watch cartoons and play video games. Other things started to become more important to some of them. For instance you had to wear a certain article of clothing (Duck Head was all the rage,) listen to a certain type of music and just in general act completely different. Needless to say I failed miserably at those. Then there was the true nerd mortal enemy, THE GIRL! Now, I could handle not being cool and getting picked on for being nerdy, but what the hell was I supposed to do with all these new feelings and emotions? Apparently I was on the do not acknowledge existence list, and stayed on it for a long time! All of these factors further alienated me from my old friends, so I did what we all did; I set out in search of new friends. Find them I did, in the hovels of school. We found each other either in the back of the class reading a comic book, in the lunch room sitting alone, or at the arcade feeding quarters into the latest fighting game. We found each other and forged new nerdy alliances. It was like old times and got better as we discovered the more hardcore things like tabletop gaming and video games with blood! Though girls were still a mystery we got along really well and weathered the trial and tribulations of high school until we finished the game (graduation.)
To show that everything comes full circle, I did figure out girls enough that I am the proud father of three male Padawans. What truly surprises me is that through Facebook and other social media I have discovered that quite a few of my “friends “ that made fun of my “neediness” are right back into all the games and cartoons and all that implies. Well they claim they never left, but those of us that have dug deep into the trenches know better. It strikes me funny how these shows and toys and games give us such a bond as people. I have started more conversations over my UNSC hoodie than I have anything else. Lots of, hey did you play this game or see that movie back in the day? The culture that has been cultivated around us has grown into a full slice of civilization. It brings us together to share ideas, art, knowledge and most importantly our dreams. I truly hope it can bring some good to this crazy world we live in.
Remember: Just because you can do something, does not mean you should!