The cold, wet air seeped through the thin windows of the station wagon. Yes, station wagon. The J.D. Power Prize for the most ridiculously uncool car goes to the Oldsmobile station wagon. Practical, yes. Off the chain, no. I sat in the back seat peeking out at the busy people whizzing by in their wicked cool cars as my Dad pumped gas into a never ending pit of dirty shame. Like a shirtless fat guy, the car sat guzzling the fuel it needed to be persistently lame for the entire trip home. It would be another hour before we got home, and all that my sister and I had to keep us busy was some paper and some crayons. Deep in my own thoughts, I just watch the world go by as we traveled.
I glanced away from the hustle and bustle for a moment to see if anyone at the gas station noticed my predicament and when I glanced back something startled me. After suffering a minor heart attack at the hands of mother, I saw her motion me to roll down my window. I groggily responded by cranking the lever in a counter-clockwise motion. When it wouldn't budge, I went the other way and rolled my eyes, thinking of inventing power windows. The window pane inched downward, until she had enough room to speak her mind.
"I found something over the hill there you might be interested in," she said as she pointed behind her. "Here you go." She handed me a small package with a picture of Superman on it. My status changed instantly from bored to thrilled.... and I became a NERD. Not a geek or a spaz or a dork, if anyone is interested, but a nerd. They run in similar circles but are very different. Think of it like Hobbits, Dwarfs, Elves and Orcs. Very different creatures but all from the same Middle Earth. Nerds, Geeks, Spazs and Dorks have different qualities and personalities, but for the most part sit at the same table during lunch and give off the same pheromone to ball bustin' bullies. This revelation didn't hit me until further along in my nerd career, so I'll leave it there.
I grabbed the small shiny package and quickly bit at the edges fumbling wildly until...POW! A large shower of trading cards rained down on me at once, and small pink broken shards of bubble gum landed in my lap. Bubble gum. That nostalgic substance whose flavor lasts only a moment until all the corn sugar and aspartame is dissolved in one's own saliva, at which point it turns into a piece of plastic. I shoved the small pieces of gum in my mouth faster than a speeding bullet and then gathered the cards in an orderly fashion taking in every color, action, and character into my now fully transformed being. My dad pumped the gas into the car while my mom pumped liquid pleasure into my thirsty boy-soul. I chewed that pink bubble gum and looked at those cards until bed time. The next thing I knew it was morning, I was late for school, and I had gum in my hair.
I had become a NERD. Not a cool nerd, by any stretch of the nerd imagination, but not a plain nerd either. I was smart as a whip at math, I could name every marvel superhero at the drop of pocket protector, I liked Tina Turner and Roger Miller, I had tape over my glasses, and I had more zits on my face than there were asteroid craters in the moon. I mean, The ladies were just dying to get wit dis. So as I squirmed through middle school and high school, I realized two things, I was smarter than Mike Doofushead, and I'm going to be a virgin for the rest of my life. Hollah. Little did I know the world was going to shift right under my feet. Hapgood's Theory of Earth's Crust Displacement happened one day while I was sleeping, and I didn't realize it until I started watching The Big Bang Theory on CBS. (Leonard, from Christmas Vacation fame, is a hoot and Sheldon Cooper, pegs my geek-dar somewhere around C++ and polymorphisms.)
It is the Age of the Nerd. Nerds have emerged (present perfect tense) with a coolness factor that can only rival the Renaissance Masters from the Age of Enlightenment. Steve Jobs is the new Michelangelo, Bill Gates is the new Da Vinci, Smart phones are the new Sistine Chapel, and Spiderman is the new David. "Heresy!" you scream from your smartphones or Facebook statusi. You just watch, 600 years from now, people will be talking about Stan Lee like we talk about Socrates.
During the Renaissance the world was run by Artists, During the Middle Ages it was the Church, and during the Galactic Republic it was run by the Trade Federation. Now we have a new authority. World Power has been granted to the Geek and the Nerd because the world is run by computers and Nerds and Geeks run computers. I used to be disconcerted about the giant books I carried, now I'm respected. I used to be sheepish about my acne, now I wear is it as battle scars. I used to be ashamed of picking my nose, now it's cool. Oh...It's not? Nevermind. Strike that last statement from the record.
So what happened to the thugs that once ruled our universe, the John McClane's and Dirty Harry's? Some of them probably died trying to climb out of the top of moving elevators or by bleeding out after accidentally shooting themselves in the foot with a Smith & Wesson revolver. But most of them probably retired or are retiring. All said and done, they served their purpose. They helped make the geeks and the nerds what they are today, vengeful and horny, among other things.
Remember that station wagon? It stalked me like a vulgar cold sore, rearing its ugly hood now and again until it was eventually given to me as my transportation to and from college. If only I knew then what I know now, I would have wallowed in the dorkiness of it all.
The Polar Bear says, "Never make fun of geeks or nerds. One day they will decide whether to hire you or not."
Take the Geek test here. It's arduous, but scores are very accurate.
I'm 32.28782% Geek - That's considered Total Geek on a scale of 1-100
My totally freaking cool nerdy family pictured below next to our Chuck Norris station wagon. Boom!