June 29, 2009

I Am Who I Am

When did I discover that I was a nerd? Husband asked me the other night, moments after I arranged my bed pillows for the umpteenth time in what I refer to as my “pillow system.”

Nerds are born not made. Certainly in my case there is a certain genetic predisposition (see family archive of father, summer 1964, plaid Bermuda shirts, white short-sleeved collared shirt, wing-tips, black socks, plastic pencil protector.) I have been nurtured by others of my kind.

I always knew deep within myself. I am a nerd.

Sure there were signs.

How many first graders write with a fountain pen?

I did not learn to ride a bike until I was almost nine – and showed no anxiety in having training wheels on one with 26 inch wheels. I was the tallest one in my class, so I needed the big bike.

And who can forget my portable battery-powered blue fan that I carried in junior high? Phy Ed gets warm when you are doing "Go You Chicken Fat Go Away."

While I was not a math or science whiz, I loved gadgets, and spent my allowance for a Dymo Label Maker and labeled everything in my parent’s kitchen after we moved to our new house in 1966.

My mother is not a nerd. She has always been a beautiful and stylish woman, in the Elizabeth Taylor Father of the Bride mode. However, she did contribute to my nerdliness with a continual, unrelenting need to curl my hair, a series of permanent waves that neither tamed nor organized my thick, black locks. Mom took me to her beautician Mrs. M, who had neon orange hair and a house that reeked of cigarette smoke, perm solution, and wet Chihuahua. Five cowlicks, no waiting.

Mom gave up on my hair when I was in the sixth grade. Today I have the exact same haircut I did at age twelve and basically the same thick-rimmed glasses. At least some things stay the same. Advice to the parent of a tween: do not get your child glasses that look like Hubert Humphrey's as she enters puberty.

I forgive Mom for these minor indiscretions for I have had a very happy life. The source of my happiness: I found another nerd.

Oh, I know many people feel that our kind should not marry, but live in civil unions. But nerds deserve legal happiness, also.

I met husband at a college yearbook workshop, not a fraternity party. His car at that time was an aged black Caddy Coupe de Ville, that needed a Bic pen stuck in the carburetor to start. Not a Trans-Am.

We have lived in our nerdy bliss now for 25 years this October. Nothing makes us happier than an evening at Barnes and Noble or a trip to Sam’s Club for new reading glasses. We both love our gadgets. Tomorrow I’m getting Husband a new Salad Spinner. Life is good. Quoth the raven.

PS My father, who will be eighty in 2010, is still a nerd and I treasure that. When I called him earlier this week, he was engrossed in Joseph Lash’s Eleanor and Franklin, and telling me in great detail about Yalta and the last days of FDR's life. I want to be that nerdy at age 78.