My sister and I have a long running joke about who is the bigger geek. I keep telling her that since I am older that makes me Queen of the geeks. She can have my title when I pass over or when I am too old and beyond geekiness to uphold my duties as Queen.
I didn’t initially refer to myself as a geek back in high school; I called myself an “other” because our ensemble of friends didn’t quite fit the geeky billing at the time. There were the usual cliques about; the jocks, preps, woodies, punks, brains, nerds (geeks) and then there was us, the others. Our posse was made up of all kinds. There were smart ones, funny ones, artists and athletes. Ethnically we were diverse too, being of Jewish, British, Japanese, Chilean, a smattering of other white folk, and me, the urban native. The funniest boys in school were part of our group and they always kept us laughing with their antics. For instance, one Christmas volleyball tournament they all dressed up as Jesse from the Beachcombers fame with big fro’s and funny clothing. They had a band called the “Left Ear Pleasures” and sang songs called “I Got My Butter” and “Circle Jerks,” very male adolescent humour. For fun we had parties in the woods and held pow wows in bathrooms where we just hung out and did adolescent things, we also watched Monty Python movies and spent much time and money in arcades. We were all slightly socially challenged and awkward compared to the rest of the folks at school. But like I said, at the time we didn’t fit the geek billing, who were considered the antithesis of cool. We had elements of coolness, but were still just considered awkward and silly.
The term ‘geek’ is a word that American English borrowed from the vocabulary of the circus sideshow. Its originally meaning was “a performer who engaged in bizarre acts, such as biting the head off a live chicken.” Which would imply that Ozzy Osborne is a geek, but he’s not called that. These days, according to the dictionary, it refers to someone who is awkward, socially inept, unattractive, and foolish. All in reference as the opposite to what is considered socially acceptable and desirable amongst the general population.
But what is socially acceptable? Acceptable to which part of society or even which society? What constitutes “the norm” of socially acceptable behavior is pushed to the limits almost every day. And of course there are the double standards. When you think about it, there cannot help but be people who are awkward and socially inept, because not everyone has been taught all the rules of what is right. It’s not as if when we come into the world, we are handed a little “Rules of Comportment” book that tells us how to act, look and be in every situation that comes up. As such we are left to look around and see what the norm is. That is if we consider it important to be just like everyone else.
There are always people who step outside their comfort zones, outside the little world in which they live for whatever reason. Since they know not the rules of the foreign society in which they find themselves, they no doubt will be considered awkward and socially inept or uncomfortable by those who live there. But like everything in life when faced with something new, in due time one adjusts. With some time and proper training, one would eventually be less geeky.
In larger cities it is a totally unnatural world where the individuals with the power and the money make and change the rules as they please. So in a sense we are all geeks running around with little or no clue about what the right thing to do is, how to not be a geek. We look to the media for its dictations as to what is what: dress like this, use this product, say this, do this, etc.
I am one of the most socially challenged people I know. If I’m not doing the wrong thing, wearing the wrong thing or liking the wrong thing, I’m saying the wrong thing. And by “wrong” I’m referring to the opposite of the status quo of what we are told to do, wear, like and say in situations. Those who follow the rules with a flash of style are considered cool, the ones you want to be like. I mean, who wants to be called a geek? It has such negative connotations! But here and now, I re-appropriate the term geek and make it the new cool. Actually, it’s already been done before, but I reaffirm it!
My own definition of what makes a geek is this: someone who simply does not fit in with the status quo of cool; a sort of independent thinker and doer with a hint of awkwardness thrown in for good measure. Lets face it, if you’re doing something new and different, it’s going to seem a tad awkward to those who have never seen it before. So I embrace my geekiness! “I yam what I yam” as Popeye says. I like what I like and do what I do because I have faith in it, not because someone tells me to do such. It makes me laugh now because I don’t think that I really am so different, it’s just that the rest of the world doesn’t get it for whatever reason. To each his own, right?
A few years ago it dawned on me that everyone is pretty much a geek anyways, some simply hide it better than others. I just like to think that I’m the biggest geek-loser-winner of them all (you can’t see me but I’m making a G, an L and a W on my forehead with my hands, my official sign). I mean, if yer going to be something, ya might as well be the best that you can be!!