Are You Wearing Spiderman Socks ??? !!!

Uber has a variety of online friends that he IM’s with or chat’s over Skype via microphone.  He was sharing with me one of his conversations this week with an online acquaintance. Uber was lamenting to him about the transfer rate of a specific MMORPG game download.  After pouring his heart out to this guy about the trials and tribulations of online gaming, he was disappointed with the response from the other side of the computer.  “Sorry, Man.  I don’t speak ‘video game’.”

It happens all the time to us.  Just when we think someone finally “gets” us and what we’re about at the Techie household, they will give one of us that look that means – – just exactly which asteroid did you ride in on??  Sigh.  It can be so discouraging to feel like the fat chick forced to guest-star on Desperate Housewives (and by fat I mean size 8, of course).  Or like the girl-turned-guy who has to go on Oprah to explain why he is the only man alive not freaking out that there is going to be a human being expelled from his body in the near future. These are people who turn heads and draw stares because of who they are.  And we empathize.

I’ve had a few folks over the years write us off just for being homeschoolers.  Now don’t get me wrong…a few homeschoolers have probably justified the stereotype over the years.  But most of us aren’t fanatical polygamous Mormon’s who close ourselves off from the world and choose to marry off our preteens to Viagra candidates.  Most of us are just parents that for some reason or other have chosen to educate our children at home because we believe it is in their best interest. 

Uber and H-T have it the toughest, though.  They are at that delightful age where even wearing the wrong socks canspiderman_socks be considered grounds for raised eyebrows and not-so-covert stares and whispers.   Fortunately for Uber, he has surrounded himself with an equally tech-obsessed group of compadres who think it is perfectly normal to talk for two hours on the phone about the possibility of a new generation of Pokemon being released.  He doesn’t usually hit the ridicule wall until he makes the mistaken attempt to strike up conversation with someone outside his circle.  That’s when he will get shanghied with some “out there” question such as who his pick for the Superbowl is, and he will answer something like “I dunno.  The Atlanta Braves seem pretty good this year.” 

H-T is pretty much oblivious to his geek status.  He lives in the world of dinosaurs, Jedi Masters, and comic book super heroes.   He only comes to the real world long enough to wolf down some food, brush his teeth, and take his vitamins.  The fact that people in the grocery store look with disdain at his new “Indiana Jones” fedora makes very little matter to him.  He is comfortable in his own skin, or as he would say, “at one with the Force.”  Unless you have news for him about the next Jurassic Park installment, he can take you or leave you.  Ridicule is lost on him.  Lucky booger.

The hard fact of life is that people aren’t always gonna get us.  We’re a little nerdy, a little left of center, a little quirky.  We probably even deserve some of the strange looks that come our way.  But I comfort myself that though we may not be conventional, there is always someone even more peculiar to help take the pressure off.  Thank goodness for the pregnant men of the world.  Long may they reign!

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Nostalgia Rears Its Geeky Head

If you were asked to measure a person’ geekiness on a scale, what criteria would you use?  How much Dungeons & Dragons paraphernalia adorned their walls? How many times they had attended an official Star Trek convention – – in costume?  How much money they had spent on comic books in their lifetime?  Maybe those would be benchmarks from my generation, but I realized that the times – – they are a changin’.

Yesterday was H-T’s 12th birthday, and no one in the universe could have been more excited about surviving yet another year than H-T.  Besides consistently shouting out “Tomorrow is my birthday!” at least 141 times on Wednesday (including one time I overheard outside the men’s restroom at Taco Bell), he also woke up at 6:00 yesterday morning loudly reminding me, in case I had forgotten the 31 hours of labor it took to wrench him out into the world 12 years ago, that today was the day!

You’re probably thinking that he must have had some incredible party plans to get him so psyched over this particular birthday, but that would mean you don’t know my H-T well enough yet.  Nope, there is no big party planned, no clowns, no bowling outing, not even a piñata.  The thing that had H-T up with the roosters, with saliva dripping down his chin?  A $100 Star Wars M.T.T. Lego Set.  Yep…building blocks.  Thousands of them.  Took him two hours yesterday morning just to separate them into color piles (and that wasn’t even his OCD kicking in…the instruction book actually advised this – – FYI).

At 11:30, he reluctantly left these blocks of bliss, and only for a couple of hours, so that he might partake of a secondary obsession – – video games.  No birthday for either of my children feels complete without two uninterrupted hours of game time at Virtual Ambush, a gaming parlor  with 25-30 big screen TV’s with various gaming systems hooked to them with kids & teens of various ages playing various games at various volumes.  In other words – – kid Nirvana.

H-T in Kid Nirvana

We left Nirvana and headed back home, making one more stop along the way – – a trip to the movie store, where H-T was allowed to pick out whatever Sci-Fi flick flipped his fancy.  Once home, he gleefully spent the afternoon and evening watching aliens destroy the world as he built the Lego spaceship that will finally rid the universe of any such threats in the future.

Bedtime for H-T came grudgingly, but peacefully, with various b-day presents laid carefully out on his bedside table – – his Spiderman graphic novel, his Alien vs Predator action figures, and his Anakin Skywalker light saber.

As his eyes closed softly, I leaned against his door and thought back to that incredible, joyous morning 12 years ago, and the promise that his life held.  Little could I have known then that I was raising a new species…ushering in a new era…a whole new generation of geekdom.  Kinda chokes you up, doesn’t it?