Only a short time ago, nerds weren’t cool. We weren’t fashionable. We were to be ridiculed and tormented for our love of comics, and those newfangled Nintendo games. We were thrown into trash cans, given swirlies, and (for the skinnier nerds) stuffed into lockers.
These days, nerdy things are all the rage. Hollywood can’t make enough super hero movies, and video game development is a billion dollar industry. There are even websites devoted to selling nerdy items only (and some are awesome. Especially ThinkGeek.com). Nerddom is all the rage, these days.
Except here in the Midwest, specifically Missouri, where I live.
People here seem to be about 10-15 years behind on things. I’m shocked we have cell phone service and internet.
I love wearing super hero shirts. I love dressing my son in super hero clothing. It is especially cool when he sees a Superman shirt he’s going to wear, and he grins and says, “Superman!” Unfortunately, people around here don’t get it. I don’t get openly made fun of anymore, but I still get the looks. You know the looks I’m talking about. The ones that say, “You’re a grown man, and you’re still into that stuff? There’s something wrong with you.”
I like to try to give them a look that says, “There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m not an ignorant Missouri hillbilly. You’re a Republican, aren’t you?”
I’m lucky I can even find said shirts. Most stores around here, including Target and JCPenney, sell some kind of nerdy shirts. There’s a problem, though. They only sell them in athletic cut (tight fitting), and sizes up to XL. Pardon me if I’m wrong, but aren’t a lot of nerds a bit… overweight? I know I am. And yet, the fat guys who are nerds can’t buy the shirts because no one sells them in our sizes, or in a classic fit that isn’t, you know, skin tight. Because fat guys and tight clothes don’t go together.
Old Navy sells them. But I refuse to pay over $20 for a t-shirt. And so does Hot Topic. But I refuse to shop at Hot Topic. I’m not an emo wannabe poser.
There are places where a nerd can get his or her fix. There are a couple of Vintage Stock stores around. They sell video games from Atari to PS3, cd’s, records, old toys, sports memorabilia, etc. There are some comic book shops (one is owned and operated by an exact clone of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons), but that’s it. Most nerds have to hide out in their moms’ basements in order to avoid ridicule.
Some things never change.
I love being considered a nerd. I love it when people see my Superman wallet and shake their heads. I think they’re just jealous. They can’t express themselves. I like being able to literally wear my interests on my sleeves. I like not caring what they think. I like being able to tell my brother (who used to be embarrassed by my nerdiness) it is he who is behind on the times. When her refers to his locker at the fire station where he works as his Batcave, I like to remind him that he used to poke fun at me for using the same kind of references.
I like the fact my son is embracing all things nerd. He watched Spider-Man with me a couple of days ago, and he loved it. Nevermind he calls Spider-Man Superman whenever he sees him. He still loves it. And Batman. He loves some Batman.
Lastly, I’m lucky I found a wife who gets me, understands and embraces my near-unhealthy obsession with movies, comics and video games. In this place, that’s rare. I wasn’t willing to give that stuff up just to find a woman, and she never tried to change me.
I don’t care that I live in a part of the world doesn’t embrace my nerdiness. The people who matter most do accept me.