Sunday, January 8, 2012

Of Geeks and Octopi

I am a geek. I say that without shame, apology, or equivocation. And I love TV shows that show geeks as healthy, useful people - shows like Mythbusters and the late, lamented NUMB3RS. I was probably born one. But I remember very well the day I came out. I was in 5th grade, so we're talking about 1965 here, and we're in the Deep South. Geeks there were, but they were seldom girls.

Those of us who rode the early busses had about half an hour until the late busses got there and school started. We generally hung out in our homerooms. I was doing said hanging out one day, when I looked up and saw Keith running toward me with a jar in his hand, and in the jar was an octopus preserved in formaldehyde.

Pause here for backstory: I was an only child - not by choice; my mother miscarried four times. Not by my choice, either; there is nothing to distract your parents from your behavior. Sometimes on cold, rainy days when there wasn't much to do, so I would lie on my stomach on the living room rug and read the World Book Encyclopedia. My favorite part was human anatomy, with all the overlapping plates showing how the organs, bones, and muscles lay. I adored biology. I ended up majoring it in when I went to college, changing my major to nursing after 2 years - exchanging pure biology for applied biology.

Anyway, back to 1965. While Keith was running toward me, I was thinking. He wanted me to run away screaming. If I did, I'd end up popular and date a lot. If I didn't, I'd be one of the guys and they'd never even consider asking me out. But if I ran away and ended up dating somebody, I would always have to pretend I was really like that. If I didn't run I might never have a date, but I could be myself.

As Keith approached with the pickled octopus, my future flashed before my eyes - in 2 versions. I knew the choice was crucial to the course of my life. So I made one of the most important decisions I've every made. I met Keith halfway to get a closer look at the poor pickled creature. All the guys gathered around and we had a lovely morning examining all the preserved fauna in the classroom.

Well, I did become one of the guys. We moved away before dating started, but not before 2 guys nearly came to blows to get the last dance of 7th grade with me. And I married a wonderful geek that loves being married to another geek. I wasn't popular until 8th grade. (Sure way to popularity: Have a strong southern accent and move somewhere else. It makes you exotic, fascinating, and completely irresistable. And it's effortless.)

It seems that this story does have a moral. When being yourself has a price, pretending to be someone else will always have a higher price. And the world needs geeks. So if you've got it, flaunt it!


  1. re: "the world needs geeks." Makes one wonder what the world's geek quotient or quota is? Given the state of things in today's world, it would seem we are dangerously low on geeks...

  2. What a cool story! My, what processing did in such a short period of time, at such a young age. I'm impressed!

  3. I love being married to my geek, and the lingo he spews forth never bores me.