THE ORIGIN OF A NERD: A TRUE STORY
The Origin of a Nerd: A True Story
I began to realize my inner nerd when I was in line at the local 24 hour Haggen’s to buy a copy of The Deathly Hallows at 12 in the morning. I had missed the launch party which included various forms of entertainment such as J.K. Rowling trivia, karaoke Hogwarts’ style and of course the ubiquitous question of whether or not Harry will survive his struggle against Lord Voldemort. Yes, these people playing Harry Potter bingo in the cafeteria lounge were my equals and when I accepted this I also accepted the fact that indeed, I was a nerd. However, this plain fact heightened when my name was drawn in a contest to receive a free copy of The Deathly Hallows and to be ushered to the front of the line which ended in the parking lot. Once your hands start shaking upon receiving a free copy of a book, a wonderful book at that, there is no turning back; there is no way to regain some ounce of cool which was lost years ago.
Part of the blame for my essence of nerd is due to my mother. She picked up the first book in the Harry Potter series, The Sorcerer’s Stone, and loved it from the first page. When she had finished the book she insisted that I read it and at first I wanted nothing to do with that book. I turned my nose up at the cover of the boy with glasses riding a broomstick and what was that in the background? A unicorn? I was ten years old I thought I knew a good book when I saw one and this Sorcerer’s Stone book was not one of them.
Months went by and my mother still would not let up. She would interrupt conversations by asking if I had picked up the book and read it to which my answer was always a resounding “No.” But she had other tricks up her sleeve, if I wasn’t going to read the book than she would just have to read it to me. She would corner me and tell me to sit down and listen to the words of the book. I squirmed on the couch as she read the opening sentence:
“’Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Private Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.’”
But I would constantly interrupt her asking what was with the owls and did that cat really just morph into a full grown woman? But these curiosities made me want to read the book myself and re-read lines to double check what I thought I was hearing. Subsequently I could not put the book down and when I finished it there was an onslaught of “I told you so” from my mother, but at the same time she was glad that I now understood what all the fuss was about.
There were only one or two Potter fans at my school but this devotion to the books was something that had to be revealed in private because it was a Christian school which frowned upon anything with a pointed hat. There was never any praise from teachers for my newfound love of reading, because to them the only thing worth reading was the Bible and maybe a little C.S. Lewis here and there because of his symbols of Christianity in his writing. But my teachers seemed to have overlooked the story The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. The hypocrisy was not missed on me and if this fact was brought up a tinge of fire would spark in the eyes of my teachers.
My nerd level only increased as I grew older and while I still read and re-read my Harry Potter books I began to branch out into other areas of literature. No one seemed to understand my need to delve into the works of Stephen King, Frank McCourt, Cormac McCarthy, Anne Rice, David Sedaris, Christopher Moore and Jeffrey Eugenides. It was somewhat isolating when your teacher felt bad for you when instead of gossiping in the hall, I read in my cubicle. This became more evident when I was waiting for class, passing the time by reading The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, and my friend sat next to me and asked what I was reading. The conversation in all it’s dry glory:
“Usher? Like the singer?” she asked.
“No, not the singer,” I corrected.
“Why are you reading that?”
“I actually haven’t read any Poe so---”
“Wait, who’s Poe?”
When I had gotten home from receiving a free copy of The Deathly Hallows I understood that I was now a full nerd. There was no going back, no need to pretend that I watched the O.C or shopped at Macy’s for a legal high, that just wasn’t me. I cut out newspaper clippings of interviews of my favorite authors and kept them pinned together with a clip in the shape of a golden Snitch. I won’t pretend to know any of the lyrics of a popular rap song, I won’t deny my love of literary analysis to fit in and I will continue to listen to Ira Glass’s This American Life with the full acceptance that no one in my class has a clue who Ira Glass is. I will proudly read my Harry Potter books and listen to Edvard Grieg and I will make no apologies.