So, when did the revolution happen?
First time I saw a geek, he was behind chicken wire in a dirt pit ravenously devouring anything the paid audience in the tent would throw in there with him. He bit chickens’ heads off and let ‘em run around spurtin’ blood everywhere. For a child of my tender years, with few adult standards yet, that was ultra peachy keen, a level of amazement now known as awesome. Tin cans, light bulbs, baling wire, razor blades; you name it, he could have eaten it right down.
It was forty-three years later when my girlfriend pointed one out to me passing on the sidewalk outside the exotic restaurant I’d taken her to to set the scene to pop the question. I was gazing around looking for some subject for casual conversation from which to smoothly segue into my spiel about the fitness of our bodies, our lifestyles and our futures when along comes the perfect example of unfit for any of that, so I stretched, yawned and in my best version of surprise remarked, “Wow, look at that nerd.”
I never even got started into my spontaneously improvised synthesis of the moment and my eternally practiced lines. The look on her face was her best version of WTF, LOL, “That’s not a nerd, that’s a geek.”
I gotta say, she stopped me in my tracks. For some strange reason I knew, with that distinction, I’d never be fit for life with her or anyone until I understood the difference. I got up from the table, kissed her on the cheek, gave her my credit card and disappeared from the world that ever saw me before.
My research has revealed that like the entire history of oppressed genius going underground and reappearing in a more sophisticated guise for their original purpose as anything from illuminati to Bohemian Grove to the Church of the Subgenius, the geeks of my youth had formed a literal underground union through the web of tunnels connecting the increasing number of pits the carnivals were so kind to dig for them. They realized over the years of considering their common experience that they had all become quite intuitive about electromechanical things and chicken heads. They taught their children to stay away from the opposite sex and anyone who appeared to be someone “…who would pay money to watch you bite the head off a chicken”, to study everything they could find about the cutting edge of gadgetry under the anonymity of various guises from queer in the fifties, square in the sixties, dweeb in the first part of the seventies melding into nerd toward the eighties until they began the silent revolution surfacing once more as geeks, wearing their weird like the latest fashion.
All of a sudden, if you were watching for it, nerds came out of their cloisters on prom night and got laid by the same drunken cheerleader as the quarterback, while he was finding how much better Zelda4TX looked without her horn rimmed glasses, hackers became synonymous with Robin Hood, the world wide web spread faster than a billion spiders, a guy in Peoria could schlep down to his basement in his altogether, bomb an entire village on the other side of the world with a sophisticated computer game while the coffee perks and be done in time to drink it fresh with toasted bagels, the president tweets.
The other day, someone asked me what I thought it would be like if geeks ruled the world. I looked at him with the smile of sardonic irony I’ve practiced for those spontaneous moments when people appear to be talking in their sleep.