I Was a Geek Before Geeks Were Geeks
From Dictionary.com:[geek] Slang. noun
- A digital-technology expert or enthusiast.
- A person who has excessive enthusiasm for and some expertise about a specialized subject or activity.
- A peculiar person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual, unfashionable, or socially awkward.
According to definition number two above, I became a geek on September 8, 1966, when “The Man Trap”, the first episode of the original Star Trek series, aired. I only watched the show because we had a single TV and it was my dad’s turn to choose the program, but OMG (not that we said that then), it was so fricking cool!
Of course, I’d never have called myself a geek. Back then the term more frequently applied to Dictionary.com’s fourth definition: “A carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts, as biting off the head of a live chicken.” But in terms of the modern geek concept? Yeah, I was so there.
While my friends crushed on teeny-bopper heart-throb singers like Bobby Sherman and Davy Jones, I crushed on Mr. Spock. Not actor Leonard Nimoy (although he was totally awesome). Mr. Spock. I learned to play chess for Mr. Spock, it was that serious. Sadly, Star Trek was cancelled before I entered high school, forcing my geekdom into different channels.
My high school “tracked” kids – slotting students into classes based on some algorithm of ability and perceived intelligence, so I spent all four years with more or less the same group of classmates. I was a National Merit Scholarship Qualifier (the only girl out of ten semi-finalists). We were the “brains” – not a good thing in those days, since it was the antonym of cool. Oh yeah. Definition number three? I so had that sucker nailed.
I didn’t let it stand there, however. As the only intersection point between the brains and the theater crowd, I scored another solid definition number two. We did cosplay before cosplay was cosplay – for instance, this party, where my two closest friends and I dressed up as the Queen of Hearts and two executioners. (I sewed the costumes. My friend Gordon made my heart staff and crown, plus two six-foot axes.)
In spirit, we totally embraced the geek concept. We just weren’t cool enough to know what it was.