Valentine's Day is almost upon us, and love is in the air. Lists of romantic movies. Articles on romantic date ideas. Five easy tips to please your lover. Love here, love there, love fucking everywhere. It gets a little tiresome, honestly, especially if you're one of those people who isn't currently enjoying the bounty of love that is all around. That's why for this Valentine's Day column, I'm going to do something different, and talk about ... love. Wait, wait! Don't run off. I'm not going to talk about romance for geeks or anything like that -- the love I'm talking about today is the love of being a geek, specifically why I love being a geek.
5) You never run out of things to geek out on No matter how much of the geek world you embrace, there's always more. Even within specific niches of geekdom, there are seemingly endless depths to explore. I can rattle off a dozen geek TV shows that I adore and have watched from beginning to end, but there are two dozen more purported to be just as great that I've never watched. I've played a dozen pen-and-paper role-playing games, but there must be 200 more out there I've never looked into. I own at least four well-reviewed and popular video games whose shrink wrap I have yet to break, and I haven't even looked at the latest generation of gaming hardware. No matter how much of this stuff I immerse myself in, there's always more -- and that's wonderful.
4) Geeks don't have to be cool I've been deeply involved with a handful of subcultures over the course of my life, from skater to raver to beardy hipster indie rock guy. Almost all of them require you to be "cool" to fit in -- wear the right clothes, like the right bands, have a fashionable haircut, etc. -- and fuck, does that get old. You don't have to be cool to be a geek. Wear whatever you want, no one cares. Hair sticks up like it's never been cut? No problem. You like Britney Spears but the guys in your playgroup are into black metal? Well, they're going to give you shit about it, but no one really minds. It's very refreshing, and comforting, to know that I can go to play Magic dressed in anything from cargo jorts and faded Metallica T-shirt to a three-piece suit, and no one is going to give a single fuck.
3) My useless talent is appreciated Everyone has a useless talent, whether it's folding their tongue into that weird three-part shape or being able to belch the "Star Spangled Banner." Generally, these serve no purpose at all, and only ever get showed off when you are drunk enough to think people will be impressed by your ability to squirt milk out of your eyelid. My own personal talent is a remarkable, even quasi-photographic, memory for obscure bullshit -- mostly movie trivia and dialogue, but also stuff like the rules for boardgames that no longer exist. Among my people, this talent is frequently appreciated, and occasionally even useful (do you have any idea how hard it is to Google the rules for a game that went out of print in the late '80s?).
2) You get to make new geeks Geeks love to share the things they love. You meet someone who's never seen an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, you spend half an hour telling them why it's great and then you lend them your DVD box set with a handcrafted viewing guide so they see the best stuff first. Sure, at least half the time you get it back unwatched, and a good portion of the remaining time they watch a few, then give it back and say, "I just didn't get it, sorry." But the other times... you bring someone new into the clan and the next thing you know, you've got a buddy for the next time Starfest rolls around. Then there's the ultimate geekmaker: joining your DNA with someone else's, then spending eighteen years indoctrinating the resulting human into the lifestyle. I've got one grown daughter, and she turned out just as geeky as me, but with her own things (she's more into anime, for example). It's my greatest accomplishment so far, but now I've got another to work on...
1) Being married to just as big a geek as me Okay, I'm cheating a little here on my "no geek romance" promise, but cut me some slack -- it's awesome having a nerd wife. She's a scientist! She plays Magic, and regularly kicks my ass at it! She had a crush on Wil Wheaton as a girl, thanks to Star Trek: The Next Generation, which finally made me understand what the hell he was doing on the show (kidding, Wil!). Thanks to my killer luck landing a geek babe as my life partner, I never have to justify my purchase of yet more video games, explain what the appeal of going to con is, or pretend to be anything but exactly what I am. It makes being an ubergeek a lot more fun, I'll tell you what.
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Find me on Twitter, where I tweet about geeky stuff and waste an inordinate amount of time: @casciato.