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I’ll be the first to admit it: When I was growing up I took great pains to make sure no one mistook me for, horror of horrors, a geek. I find it amusing as an adult to realize that with rare exception even the kids who thought they were cool most definitely had their nerdy moments! For Pete’s sake, I hung out with the “cool” kids and we painted our fingernails light blue, wore light blue hose and topped it off with light blue lipstick (and these were the boys)! We thought we were the cat’s pajamas. My mother told me I looked like I had heart disease. Back then I scoffed, sure she had no idea what she was talking about. Now I realize she was right!
While going through treatment for breast cancer I even had moments where I frantically tried to hold onto my “cool.” When I wasn’t too sick to care, I worried about how I looked without hair and tried to find ways to make my baldness appear trendy, or at the very least, something I’d actually planned. I always wondered how women like Natalie Portman and Sinead O’Connor could look so darned gorgeous with very little in the way of hair, while I always felt I looked more like a baby seal or Mr. Clean!
Now I think, I was sick, I was perhaps facing my own demise – so why the heck did I care how I looked? I guess even when I’ve got one foot on a banana peel, and the other one out the door, I still want to look good. I’m pretty sure that attitude would have even hardcore geeks shaking their heads in disbelief.
What is wonderful is that I’ve managed to live long enough for geeks to be chic! Who could have imagined? The onset and continued popularity of the Internet generation has propelled people who use their brains into the same stratosphere as pop icons. In fact, it appears the geekier the better. I’m delighted.
Believe it or not, you can actually Google geek chic and it takes you to all sorts of interesting web pages. It appears the only thing you need to be viewed as a geek in some circles is some very thick black rimmed glasses. Who knew? Unfortunately for me, those in the know also feel you should possess either IT skills or at the very least, understand gadgets. You know, how to make them. How to take them apart. How to put them back together.
A geek would know why an iPhone 5 is better than an iPhone 4. I’ve had my iPhone for over six months and I’m still trying to figure out how to use the call waiting feature.
A geek would fully understand and appreciate how a wireless router works. I don’t even understand what a wireless router is. I think I know what it does (but even that is questionable!)
A geek understands math, science, engineering and I’m quite certain, much more than I do about anything technical. Unlike me, they may not fully comprehend how to make someone laugh, but that’s what I’m here for. I suppose there are funny geeks, but for the most part that is not a prerequisite for being considered one. I further suppose there are some who would consider me a funny geek, but they are wrong. So please don’t ask me to tell you a joke about why if we could travel as fast as light we would never get old. Actually, I’m not even sure that’s true, I need to ask one of my geek friends and I’ll get back to you.
I believe I may belong to a sub-culture known as a geeky geek (GG for short). I wish that being a GG was fashionable. For the most part it’s just frustrating. Being a GG means that your kids roll their eyes when you try to sound like you know what you’re talking about. Being a GG means when you order at Starbucks they roll their eyes because they have no idea what you are talking about. If you are rolling your eyes right now – stop it!
Why, you ask, am I talking about geeks during Breast Cancer Awareness Month? I’ll tell you why. Because I’d be willing to bet when the cures are found – when the world changes – it will be because a geek figured it out. Granted, Ryan Gosling may play the part in the movie, but the people who do the work and put an end to this horrible disease will most certainly have done well in the aforementioned scientific or mathematical pursuits. If they happen to be wearing thick black-rimmed glasses and pocket protectors, God bless them!
So, in addition to Breast Cancer Awareness Month I am proclaiming October as Hug a Geek Month. That’s right. Hug a Geek Month. Nearly every family has one, and if you don’t, most families would be willing to loan you theirs for such a worthy cause.
Go on, you know you want to do it. And don’t worry, it won’t make you a geek – a nerd maybe – but not a geek![Ed. note This piece was submitted prior to Oct. 5, 2011, but we would be remiss not to acknowledge one of the geeks who changed the world, and his good advice: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”