What an amazing time for geeks! First, Stanford is ranked as the 2nd nerdiest college in the United States by Localicious (http://www.local-icious.com/blog/10-nerdiest-american-colleges/). Then, this week I was introduced to a new term which will forever be cemented into the lexicon of my geeky life: “Adorkable.” Seriously? Adorkable? How have I missed this? Or rather, how did I not coin this phrase years ago? Regardless, whatever FOX intern/producer/writer coined the phrase to describe Zooey Deschanel’s character on the new sitcom New Girl is my new hero.
For anyone who has watched the pilot and 2nd episode of New Girl, you’ll totally get what I’m talking about here. Zooey’s character is quirky, smart, geeky, prone to spilling and, well, simply adorkable. With her glasses askew and a proclivity for singing her own theme song (“It’s Jess!”), Zooey’s role captures all that I love about geeks, dorks and nerds – the ability to be completely self-effacing, the tendency toward tripping and the unapologetic embracing of one’s own character. I do realize that perhaps my adoration of this fictional girl is something not exactly shared with everyone. My husband, who, granted, sat through the entire episode as I hungrily watched his reaction, wasn’t the biggest fan. But maybe that’s because I was staring at him the entire time waiting for him to shoot water out of his nose from laughing too hard. I’m alright with the fact that she might not be everybody’s cup of tea. I mean, I don’t particularly care for Snooki, and other people love her, so to each his or her own.
But my downright love for this character begged the question, “Why do I identify with her?” Coincidentally, a friend of mine recently asked me what sorts of things about myself I considered geeky. She’s only known me since the birth of our children and therefore didn’t have much of a notion of what I was like before kids. In addition to emphasizing that my Body Mass Index was probably a bit more in check, I tried to give her solid, tangible examples of what I deem my geekier moments. And in retelling them, I realized just how much of my character is built around them – how much of my sense of self is rooted in these anecdotes that continue to ground me and reaffirm my identity. I won’t bore you with the full dissertation – just the top five highlights…
1) When i was a little girl, I was invited by my childhood friend to attend the Junior Cowgirl competition in Mariposa, CA. She had won the title two years running and I was merely going along for the ride and the promise of free hot dogs. But every child who attended had to compete, so suddenly I found myself with a number safety-pinned to my chest and a lariat in my hand. Needless to say, by some divine secret of the “Hee Haw” sisterhood, I won the title of Junior Cowgirl for placing first in categories like watermelon seed spitting, skeet shooting and calf roping. Bragging rights? Check. Shiny silver belt buckle with my name on it? You bet your rawhide.
2) At a very fancy party at my college boyfriend’s private school, I was seated next to the headmaster who, years ago, had been a fellow English Major like me. Striving to impress this very accomplished gentleman, I told him that I was specializing in 18th Century British novels. When asked my favorite book of the period, I proudly told him “Gilligan’s Travels” which, as everyone knows, is the lesser-known Swift novel starring Ginger.
3) I’m an absolutely hopeless Anglophile and still keep a pound in my wallet from when I studied at Oxford. With no imminent plans to cross the pond, however, this obsession currently manifests itself as an addiction to Laura Marling and a predilection for reading to my children with a British accent. And, now, my older son does it and sounds a lot like Mick Jagger reading Captain Underpants.
4) I had the stomach flu on my first date with my husband. He was so handsome and I was so fearful that by cancelling I might never hear from him again, I put on my big girl pantyhose (and lilac pantsuit…horror…) and met him at the decided-upon restaurant…an Ethiopian establishment which, in any other circumstance, would have been ethic and lovely, but given the aforementioned gastrointestinal issues, made sitting in front of a platter of lamb dulet almost impossible. And yet, even though I only drank ice water and excused myself to the bathroom seven times (to not only barf but re-apply makeup with the emergency beauty kit I’d stashed in my gargantuan purse), the love of my life never knew until long after I’d snagged him as my very own.
5) When I was in the second grade, I wet my pants because mean Mrs. Cabral wouldn’t let me go the bathroom until recess. After, well, doing my business into my corduroy (and remarkably absorbant) jumper, I swiftly changed seats. When the other kids noticed the little puddle, I blamed it on this kid named Johnny but only because he used to chase me around the playground yelling “bite the weenie” and wouldn’t you do the same thing?
So, those are my top five moments of sheer geekdom for which I am eternally grateful. Like the latte I recently spilled into the crotch of my white jeans, I wear them with pride and the understanding that this is who I am. I am a woman who should never wear white jeans, but will continue to do so on the off chance that a day will come along in which I don’t sit on a Hershey’s bar. I wear them like my worn and tattered “Carpe Diem” t-shirt which I wore most days at summer camp. And I wear them like the big floppy hat I wore in college with the ginormous red rose on the brim that I thought made me look whimsical and romantic but really just made me look like a stop-light. I think these things are what make me who I am. And if they’re simply adorkable, then hooray for me. (“It’s Katie!”)
originally published September 30, 2011 http://pgnet.stanford.edu/get/page/blogs/post-view/?ciid=44847