You geeks today don't know how lucky you are. Uber-geek Bill Gates is one of the richest men in the world, the Lord of the Rings trilogy was one of the most successful movie franchises of the last decade, and there have been five different Star Trek television series.
Back in my day, we geeks didn't even want to be known as geeks, much less have our interests made public. Brian Dilkes and I were the only ones in our elementary school who had read The Hobbit, and we sure didn't tell many people that we'd read it. (We had an extremely geeky thing we said, which was "I have developed a habit of reading The Hobbit.") There were six of us (seven if you count Noah Wyle, who drew a really good horse in second grade but left our school for another soon after) who played Dungeons & Dragons (which we mistakenly thought would sound cooler if we called it "D&D", but of course, in retrospect, it sounds just as dorky). And I collected stamps as well... but Aaron Friedland and I didn't share this hobby with anyone else. And Matthew Engle, with whom I collected Garbage Pail Kids cards in elementary school, has apparently teamed up with Daniel Berke, who wrote his first science fiction novella when we were in junior high school together; now they make video games.
But here's the difference between then and now -- back then, we were not the popular kids. Geekishness was either embraced (Daniel Berke, I'm writing about you now) or hidden (which is the path that I took), and those who joined me on the latter journey actually did have friends. I should mention that even Daniel Berke, who was never seen without his outré Member's Only jacket, had standards -- he often remarked that Christopher Alexander was a geek. And as for me, struggling to fight the geek image? Heck, I was on Prom Court in High School (granted, my high school was a math and science magnet, but I am determined to brag about it nonetheless. But I will only mention sotto voce that I lettered in high school... in journalism.
Whew, that is just too much geekiness.
Now kids are proud to brag about video game addiction. Now, they listen to William Shatner sing songs with Ben Folds. Now, they admire Larry Ellison and the Wachowski Brothers. And let's face it -- the only directors geekier than them are Tim Burton (hugely successful) and Peter Jackson, and he directed the Lord of the Rings trilogy!!! Yeah, you guys have it too darned easy.
We geeks of days gone by had to hide our light under a bushel, and deny our true nature. There were no examples of geeks who had grown into success, or at least none who were acknowledged as fellow travelers; we were taught that to succeed one must overcome those tendencies. Nowadays, everyone goes to see Spider-Man at the local cineplex, and you can find geek girls naked all over the net (Suicide Girls, anyone? Sure, they claim to be "punk" or "goth", but we know the demographic, right? When I was in school there were no hot geek chicks to ogle; there were the cool girls, who didn't even know we existed, and there were the girls who were even beneath our standards -- and even those girls ignored us). And as for Star Trek... you've had the original series, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise (yes, I can name all five). Not to mention Rodenberry's other work. Yeah, you guys have it so sweet.
Am I still a geek? Let's check:
(1) Matrix Reloaded on opening day? Check.Why does my wife put up with me? Is it in spite of my geekishness... or is it secretly because of it? We'll never know.
(2) Buy old comic books on eBay? Check.
(3) It was only that once, honey.
(4) Isn't that enough, dear?
(5) I have a blog.(a) I write about comics on the blog.
(b) I write about writing about comics on the blog.
(6) Those are my D&D dice in the picture.(a) Those are my good D&D dice in the picture.
(b) My D&D dice are readily accessible for photo opportunities such as this.
(c) I took a half-dozen different pictures because I wanted them to look cool.
(d) I am actually still proud of the six-sided skull die and the eight-sided dots die.