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Confession of Just Another Cosmetic Geek

We have come to a place in pop culture where being a geek is all the rage. With Comicon, Dragoncon, super hero movies, 2 new Star Trek joints (one up and coming), and other countless outlets for nerds, all created with precision, talent, and marketing prowess, the powers that be have perfected the art of packaging geekdom in blazing color. They’ve shrink-wrapped it. They’ve put it out into the main stream.

In ages past, geeks were outcasts. They lurked in their parents’ basements, rolling 20-sided dice. They discussed fascinating topics such as Kirk vs. Picard at long length. They shook their spears over gaming tables full of Warhammer 40,000 figurines, insistent that every plastic and pewter figurine be painted in painstaking detail.

Now everyone claims to be a geek. But the truth is, most self-proclaimed geeks are nothing more than Johnny-come-latelies who stake their place in the Valhalla of geekdom precariously balanced on latent affinity for Star Wars. I came to realize, as I visited a gaming and comic book store that opened their doors recently across from where I work, that I fit into the cosmetic geek category. The shop, by the way is called HaJoMaje Games and Comics in Kaysville, Utah. You really should go buy something from them.

Sure, I like Star Wars as much as the next guy. I’ve watched all of the new seasons of Doctor Who. I’m even a die hard Planet of the Apes fan. But as I listened in on a group of Magic the Gathering players cloistered around a foldout card table in the middle of a parti-colored shop festooned with walls of figurines, light sabre’s, trading cards, comics, space ships, and games (most of them I didn’t recognize), I realized that I stood in the midst of something special.

I had been admitted into their house, but not into their world. The reason I must denounce my membership in geekdom is simple: I haven’t paid my dues. As I watched the card players engage each other for a quarter of an hour, I felt taken in by their language, their chides full of rich references that I didn’t understand, their clothing, their mannerisms, their deep-seated quirky refinement, their comfort in being exactly what they were–across the river Styx with anyone who made any bones about it.

I found a sudden respect for the criteria that made the little group of gamers individual. And so in that handful of minutes in which I quietly looked on, I discovered that actual geeks belong to an elite club. It’s a club to which I do not belong. I felt a little sad because I have proclaimed my geekdom on occasion. But since realizing that I haven’t paid my dues, hence forth, I will not pretend to be that which I am not.

I like Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail, but I can’t recite the entire script verbatim. I enjoy fantasy novels and movies, but I can’t get myself to put on a tunic, pick up a foam sword, and join the ranks of a public park phalanx. I enjoy Doctor Who, but only the reboot seasons.

And so to true geeks everywhere, I offer my solute and I respectfully bow out of your ranks. Be individual. Be irreverent. Grind against the grain of the mainstream. By all means, continue being a geek. We love you. We respect you. We aspire to be like you. But, although pop culture today pressures us to be like you, we at last realize that we are not you.

-Craig Nybo

3 Trackbacks

  1. By The Current Top Five Nerdiest Things In My Life on January 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    […] things that dominated our perception of ourselves lose some of their traction, as Craig so aptly explained previously.  Right now, I tend to refer to myself as a Reformed Geek. Life has staged an intervention for me […]

  2. […] our perception of ourselves lose some of their traction, as our very own Craig so aptly explained previously.  Right now, I tend to refer to myself as a Reformed Geek. Life has staged an intervention for me […]

  3. […] Photo from Craig […]

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