The Nerdiest Time of the Year

Fan Expo has once again come to Toronto. If you wander around downtown near the convention centre, you are going to see scads of people dressed as super heroes, science fiction characters, and Doctor Who (because he deserves a category all on his own.). Muppet and Monkey went off this morning with a skip in their step. Mini Me, true introvert that he is, didn’t want to face the crowds. That may change when he earns more appreciation for the girls in skin-tight Harley Quinn outfits. But, I digress.

In our house, we lovingly embrace the words nerd and geek. Muppet is a geek of long-standing – a true blooded Dungeons and Dragons playing, science fiction reading nerd who somehow convinced me to hang a mounted movie poster of the Matrix above our living room couch in our first apartment. It has now been relegated to the basement man cave along with the video games and Nightmare Before Christmas collectibles.

How did I, a woman who always swore she couldn’t stand science fiction, get tangled up in this geeky web? Turns out I was wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

I grew up on the original Star Trek series and I loved it. I think I had a little girl crush on Captain Kirk. When Muppet and I were first dating, we watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer together and I was hooked. The pretty girl chasing the monsters for a change? Sign me up! Then came Doctor Who and Christopher Eccleston and Rose and… Well, that was that. I earned my nerd membership later in life than many, but the Dalek sitting on my desk as i write this speaks volumes.

The kids were exposed to all things nerdy pretty much from the womb. Muppet read Lord of the Rings to Mini Me while he kicked away happily inside me. His first toys were Star Wars action figures. Monkey’s favourite stuffed animal as a baby was a promo toy from a video game.

Now that Mini Me is 13, he joins his dad and all of his friends for their Nerd Nights – role playing games that are taken very seriously and played while consuming Twizzlers and Cream Soda (blech!). It gives them something to bond over and all of Muppet’s friends welcomed into their fold with patience and love. Monkey is not there yet, but as a kid with ADHD, the patience it takes for the games just escapes him by about 7pm. He will get there, though.

Being a nerd is different now than it was when I was younger. Nerds fully let their flags fly and the internet means you can always find somebody who shares your likes/obsessions/hobbies. You don’t have to feel alone. Better yet, there are more nerd girls than ever before. Nerd love is possible. I’ve seen it.

I may have been a late-comer to this whole nerdy geeky world, but I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it now. Nerds and geeks are some of the most kindhearted, accepting, open-minded people you could ever meet and there are much worse things that I would hope for my kids than to be a part of that world.

Invasion of the Junior Nerds

Funny looking dice

So, I may have mentioned in the past that my lovely partner Muppet is a big, giant Nerd. We use the word with love but it is what it is. When I met him, I knew he was an artist and extremely talented, with some pretty stong computer geek tendencies. Then, I found out about the Dungeons and Dragons thing. Sigh. Luckily, I was already hooked or that may have been a deal breaker right there.

Yes, he was one of those guys who spent his weekends in his friends’ living rooms or basements, rolling funny looking dice and plotting elaborate escapades that involved ogres and wizards. In fact, he had started up the first ever D&D club at his high school. I bet that really impressed the chicks.

But, here’s the thing. Those guys that he met in high school are still his best friends now, over 20 years later. They are loyal to each other, they love each other to bits, and they still get together to play whenever they can. Every one of them is married and several have kids. They are fantastic husbands and fathers. The creativity they put towards gaming when they were teenagers has translated into successful jobs as engineers, Gemini award-winning script writing (that’s the Canadian Emmys), high level marketing executives (for a gaming company, no less), and video game designers (that’s my Muppet).

And now Muppet has started a Junior Nerd campaign. Mini Me and a gaggle of his 10-year-old friends get together in my dining room about once a month and Muppet gets out his funny dice and elaborate spreadsheets and helps them to imagine being ogres and wizards and rogues. They love it, and to my surprise, the group has been growing. These kids who have been growing up on Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter don’t thing it’s nerdy or geeky or uncool to spend an afternoon eating junk food and rolling dice. Anybody at school who finds about it wants to join in.

Mysterious spreadsheets of nerdiness

I have to go and start preparing the snacks in a couple of minutes and when they all get here, I will leave them to it. It’s not something that interests me, but I admit to sitting quietly in my adjoining living room and just watching them sometimes. I love to see the camaraderie and hear the laughter. I imagine them doing this in 5 or 6 years time when it will be at night with candles and creepy music to set the mood and pizza and wings will replace my carefully thought out healthy snacks. I hope that this creates a bond in these boys the way it did with Muppet and his friends.  It’s a rare thing to see a bunch of men who love each other and accept each other the way Muppet and his friends do. My boys have grown up around that and I wish the same for them.