I am a nerd.
I have been one since way before it was cool.
Now, I figure that a statement like that cannot go without some foundation of facts, and so, here is my story:
The first 12 years of my life were fairly uneventful, nerd-wise, so I will skip to the “good” parts. I got my first job at the tender age of 13 so that I could save up enough money to buy my first *real* computer…
The Commodore 64
<insert sound of a choir of angles singing here>
But that was a long time coming. First, I had to work like a small, highly-motivated, slave in the Southside Fish Market…
…I think it’s important at this point to mention that, at the age of 13, I had not had my “growth spurt” yet. That didn’t happen until 9th grade, where I started the slow and steady growth that eventually shot me up to the ridiculous height of 5’9″, making me the tallest member of the family of midgets that adopted me.
But I digress… back to the fish market.
So, there I was, barely even a teenager, and much smaller than the average one. And I had the job of busboy. There was a restaurant as well as the fish market and it was, and likely still is, very popular. Clearing the tables of dirty dishes, although dramatically unpleasant, was the least of my worries while I worked there. You see, they had a “Clam Bar”, and behind this bar was a large kitchen garbage pail. Every night, this pail contained a nights worth of discarded clamshells, and nothing else. They didn’t like to take up valuable space with anything less dense, it seemed. And, every night, it was my job to take it out to the dumpster.
Because God is frequently benevolent, I was supplied with a hand truck to get the garbage pail to the dumpster. But, because he also likes a good joke, emptying the pail into the dumpster meant lifting it over my head. The difficulty level of this task may be a bit hard to grasp without visual aids, so…
As you can see, this job required me to ignore several fairly important laws of physics; gravity and I are still not on speaking terms. But, somehow… I survived the experience, made enough money, and actually purchased my own Commodore 64 <insert more singing angels here>!
My parents, I am sure, thought it was great. Here I was, 13 years old, and already grasping the importance of making and saving money, and for what? A computer no-less! Fools! That computer, once I learned how to use it, became responsible for the formation of just about every bad habit I have today. It did more damage to me than any “bad kids” ever could have. If my parents had only known, they probably would have willingly given me crack-money.
Behind that sexy brown keyboard I learned:
How to chat without using any English words.
How to carelessly flout Copyright laws
How to get many, many pictures of naked women
How to spend countless hours in a chair only moving to get snacks, and to pee.
And much, much more.
NOTE: My current computer allows me to do those same things, only much faster (except the peeing part).
…and all this before the Internet even existed!
As far as computers go, approximately the next 10 years of my life followed a rinse and repeat kind of pattern. Get another job… save for another computer. But, then I graduated from college, and got my first real job. And that’s when the pattern changed…
Me: Well… I guess it’s time to get a new computer
Employer: Since you use it for work, we’ll buy one for you
Employer: Are you ok?
Employer: Are you crying?
I was now a fully-grown nerd-man.
My Rite of Passage into a mature adult nerd was not only paved with computers. My life was filled with the usual nerdly fare. I watched Star Wars and Star Trek. I played Dungeons & Dragons. I developed an unnatural love of Coca-Cola. I had the social skills of a turnip.
That was long, long ago (last week), and today I enjoy a more well-rounded existence (I watch Firefly too).
But, I’ll save the details of my other pursuits for future entries.
They may frighten you a bit.
You will be…
You will be.