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Earning Your Nerd Card

By Wesley Rossenrode

The article you’re about to read was not intended. I was going to review a lesser-known comic book to show how indie-cool I am, but got distracted by my blind hatred for pseudo-nerds. So, I crumpled up my old article that I had cursed and revised a thousand times and dragged it to my recycle bin, beginning anew on a fresh white Word doc that pleaded to be besmirched by my rushed, obsessed script of a bastardizing brood that has stripped me of my identity. 

Back in my day, the nerd could be easily recognized by the tape holding their glasses together and the pocket protectors in their starched short-sleeved polyester blend shirts. They were the ones playing an aggressive game of chess in their favorite teacher’s classroom or reading a worn copy of Elric of Melniboné under a tree. They were the ones that could burp the alphabet and fart on command. But that’s no more. Now, the hot girl with the fake-lens spectacles and the Spider-Man shirt is the nerd. That so-called Spidey fan that has no idea for a whole year Spider-Man was actually Doc Ock inhabiting the body of Peter Parker. Now, the jock who threw ketchup packets at me while I peacefully read about the adventures of an albino emperor and his mighty vampiric sword, Stormbringer, can enter the world of the introverts because he stood in line for the midnight showing of the latest Captain America movie. 

Blasphemy!

Yes, I hear you, fellow shunned, no one is born a nerd, but they are chosen early and the path they must follow is perilous. The road to true nerdom is full of bumps and bruises and ego- crushing insults. And for that young nerd who strays from the path, their lives are much more difficult, because they will one day wake up in a world they will not relate to, with the true horror coming from the reflection in the mirror they will not recognize. Even I, a husky youth with a lazy eye and penchant for math, was not given immediate access through the gates of nerdom. So why do we allow these drones to invade the happy hives we’ve worked so hard to construct? Because the whole thing is a façade.

No one is a nerd. Everyone is a nerd.

Ask yourself, what defines a nerd? Is it the liking of a good book, the enjoyment of a challenging game, or possessing an abundance of knowledge of something oddly specific? Everybody has that. Is it then, the resilience one has when standing up to popular adversity that makes them a nerd? If that is truly the defining quality, then isn’t it hypocritical to shun those now getting into “nerd culture”, albeit late in the game? Who doesn’t secretly despise the guy who turns his nose up at that young Padawan just getting into an obscure piece of amusement? I know I do and I will admit I have been made to feel ashamed that I wasn’t nerd enough.

A not-so-compelling example…
A couple of months back, I was forced to watch Kevin Smith’s Comic Book Men after a depressing episode of The Walking Dead left me blurry-eyed and confused for several minutes. In that episode of Comic Book Men, a guy came into the shop and was bashed (maybe not bashed) for bringing in a collection of comic book trading cards. A little history: my first introduction to comic superheroes was the show X-Men: The Animated Series, back in the ‘90s. It was awesome! I can’t recall one kid on my block that didn’t run around the house with butter knives between their fingers after that aired (Wolverine has adamantium switchblades for knuckles, FYI). From there I started collecting comic book cards which, according to Kevin Smith and his posse over at the Stash, was a total waste of my time. Whatever. Studying the super power stats of my favorite mutants is a fond memory from my childhood. It helped introduce me to the Marvel universe at a time in my life when I couldn’t afford (well, my parents couldn’t afford) a monthly comic book subscription. And I’m glad I stuck with it, because the storylines of bullying and persecution resonated and comforted this chubby, fresh off the boat Pakistani idiot. Comic storylines are great like that, and a shout-out to my wife who encouraged me to get back into them when I had my own McNugget money to pay for them.

So keep your mouth shut, Silent Bob.

Another rant I tend to hear from the nerd club, or should I say, boys' club, is about the gamer girl. She’s only owns a DS, how can she call herself a gamer?! She’s not a real gamer, she’s only popular because of her girl parts…  Schmucks. I won’t say all girls want to play video games, but I will say they weren’t given a fair chance when video games were making their way into American homes. The marketing was definitely geared toward the boys, which in turn had an effect on our parents, who didn’t want those mind-rotting machines in the house in the first place. When the holidays came around, it was Timmy who got the NES while Sally got the swing set she had to share with her sister. Don’t get me wrong, I was no champion for girls when I was a kid; they had cooties, and my sisters were the devil. I’d be damned if I was going to let my sisters put their grubby hands on my beloved Nintendo. That mentality, however, forced girls to play in the shadows. I’ve heard many stories of girls sneaking into the dark, dank dungeons that were their older brother’s bedroom just to get in a few levels of Sonic the Hedgehog.  And how were girls expected to ever adjust to the tank controls of the horror classic, Resident Evil, when they were more horrified of getting their ears boxed by their older brother, who at any moment would return from getting drunk in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven with his buds? 

I’m glad to say, through all the sneaking around, sibling terror, and harassment girls have had to endure over the years of video games, they continue to clutch those controllers tightly. According to the Entertainment Software Association, 44 percent of women are gamers. They ESA even lists the fact on the homepage of their website.   

So, some nerds can be jerks. Screw ’em. Go ahead, middle-aged bro: wear that Captain America shirt you got from Target and be proud, just remember to teach your kids not to throw things at innocent people, or anybody for that matter. And girls: keep gaming, because why not? Video games are awesome.

Everyone has insecurities. Everyone wants to belong. Everyone feels alone at times and some more than others. We are social creatures, and if we as individuals are shunned by the majority, we will collect like minds forced to the fringe and start a new society. Because we have to.