December 6th, 2012
My personal life is spent among like minded people. I am forever thankful as this has not always been the case, nor is it always among those people brought into my life though methods beyond my choosing. This is especially true in the workplace. It is frustrating beyond belief to constantly explain references to things like The Princess Bride or Star Trek to those near and dear, but only awkward to explain to acquaintances and co-workers.
I am a stranger in that strange land where football rivalries matter.
It is wonderful to simply ask “Have you ever watched Big Bang Theory?” in response to a statement made by an acquaintance and have them know exactly why you asked at that moment. I had just that conversation not long ago with the guy who waits on us at the Costco food court. Especially for us geeks and nerds, it is like a secret handshake letting each other know we are on the same wavelength. Even if we might not share a single fandom in common, we are both oriented towards a certain kind of cultural experience which is outside the mainstream even in today.
Unlike my teenage years when I tried to slide under the radar with my natural nerd/geek/dork proclivities, these days I embrace and advertize it. Everyone has their own definitions of those words. Some people are offended by one or more of them. Some identify with one and use the others pejoratively. I’ve long used “Nerd. Geek. Dork.” as my shorthand bio around the internet as I identify with each for different reasons.
It occurred to me at work one day that I visibly embodied each of those terms.
I am a nerd because my Kindle holds nearly a thousand documents, including around 500 books I fully intend to read and it goes everywhere with me.
I am a geek because my wardrobe choices today include a Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy t-shirt, a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic messenger bag and a Doctor Who lunch box.
I am a dork because while standing around with several coworkers in a meeting, I took a sip of my travel mug and missed, sending a cascade of coffee down my chest.
A few minutes later, I was trying to explain my identification with the race of Hobbits to the same gathered group. Let’s say, some of them got it and some of them didn’t. Of course, being 4’8 and of ample proportions, those who did get it knew exactly why I would say such a thing.
The lady conducting the meeting – a down home country girl if there ever was one – was taken aback, not knowing anything about Hobbits, to the point she feared the whole conversation was becoming an HR issue. My explanations only made things worse.
I explained, “I am short and my toes are hairy.”
She said, “They make Lady Bics for that.”
I said, “I do take care of it, but it’s there and sort of a joke. You see, I love a cozy home, second breakfast and merry making.”
In not so many words, I had to explain none of those things meant anything like “Afternoon Delight.” Second breakfast is literally a second breakfast meal and merry making is more along the lines of hosting a party with cake and giving gifts to your friends on your birthday. None of it any kind of innuendo, for sure, as anyone familiar with the source material knows. It boggles my mind post-Lord of the Rings trilogy anyone could have avoided a basic understanding of Hobbits to such a degree that my short stature wouldn’t be explanation enough.
Apparently, Hobbits really are Tolkin minorities. My native language is not widely understood, I’ve made a new work-friend who loves football and affectionately calls me “Hobbit.”