“Sci-fi nerds are respectful, honorable. You can trust them.” –Claudia Christian
“Being a nerd, which is to say, going too far and caring too much about a subject . . .” –Sarah Vowell
“We’re all nerds on one subject or another.” –Jonathan Lethem
Are you a nerd? Have you ever been one? Chances are in high school—and possibly in college—like myself, you witnessed the sectioning off of cliques. Cool kids and athletes in one group. The best dressed had their corner. Goths had the bench by the tree. Nerds, wherever they could find refuge.
Or maybe there was a nerd in every clique: The jock-nerd. The cheerleader nerd. The cool kid who was also heavily into comic books.
Often ostracized during painful coming-of-age years, nerds really get put through it. True to life, however, the nerd world is not a monolith. We come in all shapes and fashions.
Take, for example, the socially inept nerd. Never the life of the party, this nerd cannot sustain the right balance of small talk and whatever she is nerdly obsessed over. At the homecoming dance she may share too much of her fascination with the sex lives of plants instead of chatting about who brought who—or she’ll be so unfashionably dressed and shy she’ll spend the dance alone.
Then there’s the Dungeons and Dragons nerd. This guy loves comic books and the world of sci-fi, possibly enough never to care about the opposite sex. One might find him at Comic-Con or watching reruns of the Lord of the Rings on TNT. He sports an appreciation for the fantastical and sleeps in line waiting for Star Wars tickets.
Computer geeks and the book smart come to mind when most folks think of the term nerd. Stereotypically they don pocket protectors and strut wicked skills at repairing your motherboard or tutoring you in physics.
Still, we all have our favorite nerds. And for those of us who endured high school life labeled as one, somewhere along the way we embrace our individuality and work it to our advantage. We wear it. Embrace nerd-dom.
The fraternity Lambda Lambda Lambda featured the best of all these categories (or combinations of them) in the movie Revenge of the Nerds—and in the end, they made everyone want to be nerds. In their words:
“No one’s really gonna be free until Nerd Persecution ends.”