Full Frontal Nerdity
I feel bad for Darth Vader. He has weighed heavily on my heart ever since I watched episodes one through three with my daughter a few weeks ago.
The poor man, he turned to the dark side out of love for his wife. He is portrayed as a villain when it could be argued that, because he sacrificed himself, he is a noble hero.
It was when I heard myself making this argument for the third time in a week — this time to a stranger — that I realized I myself had gone to the dark side. It’s the side opposite normal, socially adept people.
On this side, my side, are nerds.
I’ve dabbled in nerdity before. Always, I have been a word nerd, and during high school and college, I was a band nerd.
I do nerdy things like cite some study or another in conversations in which I am also likely to quote a bizarre statistic.
Did you know, for example, that redheads make up only 4 percent of the population worldwide? That means you are more likely to encounter a man with only one, well, you know what, than a redhead.
How about this little gem of a statistic: 2 percent of adult Americans believe Mitt Romney’s real name is Mittens. Mittens! The next time a friend tries to convert you to his politics, distract him with that delightful tidbit.
Perhaps the most damning piece of evidence of my nerdity is that I spent time researching the root and cultural connotations of the word nerd before going public with this diagnosis.
I learned from my research that there’s a subculture of old-school nerds offended by people who claim nerdity without meeting certain criteria. Like knowing pi to more than 10 places. (I don’t.) Or owning and regularly using a light saber. (Hmmm, I don’t own a light saber, but I do occasionally use one. Does that count?)
Those nerds seem downright snooty. It sounds to me like they have their own club and you can’t be a member unless you suffered playground abuse as a kid.
I get it, though. I feel similarly about faux redheads. My red-from-a-bottle friends, I love you. I really do.
However, unless you were called “carrot top” as a kid, teased mercilessly about your freckles or heard more than once, “You’re pretty. For a redhead,” then you are red-haired but not a redhead.
There’s a unity borne from the childhood misery of being redheaded that no dye job can penetrate. We natural redheads even have a secret handshake.
Though I understand the cliquishness of the old-school nerds, they don’t have a monopoly on nerdity. There’s a cornucopia of nerd types in the world.
Lit nerds who dream about Mr. Darcy. Politico nerds who live, breathe and yak about government. Computer nerds, whom we adore, because without them we would all be in major trouble.
Then there are film nerds, of which I was apparently a new member. I’m joining the likes of the Trekkies who, frankly, I find a little fanatical.
I have friends I suspect speak Klingon as well as they speak English, and my husband named his dog after a “Star Trek’ character. Counselor Deanna Troi, a black pointer-Lab, ruled the roost when I met Patrick. I knew if she and I didn’t hit it off, it would be me hitting the road, not her.
As a card-carrying film nerd myself, I can no longer poke fun at the Trekkies or the “Star Wars’ weirdos who attend conventions dressed as characters from the series.
How can I, when I’ve been debating which character I would represent if I went to a convention?
I’ve settled on Padmé Amidala, by the way. Only, I want to be Padmé as she was in Episode Two. She had to wear all those awful headpieces in Episode One, and she spent most of Episode Three swooning and growing weak from her pregnancy. Episode Two had her active, decisive and fighting with a light sabre.
You can call me Padmé henceforth, and may the Force be with you.
Contact Melanie Coughlin at email@example.com.
More like this story