I became eccentric in my adolescence.There were two paths, I took the one more nerdy. Nerds usually come out fine in the long run, but sometimes it’s a real long run.
I never thought of myself as a nerd until today. I bet this lack of self awareness is an essential element of nerdiness. But wait, I only joined the math club because of the boys. What ‘s the difference between someone who studies several hours a day then sits down with a library book or a good variety show and a nerd? This was and still is, normal behavior, or so I thought. I knew that other people dated, drove cars, talked on the phone. They just weren’t me or my family.
My mother, owner of several mini skirts and white patent leather boots, tried to stop me from going outside in my overly colorful outfits. I thought nerds wore black but I guess the best definition would be that no one else would ever wear what we do by choice. The outfit I remember her objecting to was a green polyester turtleneck, red corduroy skirt, (knee length even) with a plaid sash. Unfortunately, I chose to wear the plaid sash tied in a big bow around my neck. There may even be a photo of me wearing this in the high school yearbook.
My uncle told my mother she should stop me from going to the library or I would become a librarian. Indeed I epitomized the slender, celibate theological librarian in my 30’s. At least I was working at a liberal theological library with a bunch of ex-nuns. I guess we’re just skirting around the math club issue again. If I like the company of nerds, I must share their tribal blood. This job was after I gave up being a floor sander, a not quite nerdy job, but certainly one where outsiders abound. My co-worker was a classically trained pianist and a my boss a wanna be rock star.
I discovered running in my 20’s. Unlike the other members of the track team I didn’t run for points or winning but because it was delightful. I think there may be other runners who stop, walk or even sit and investigate their surroundings but not during a race. I liked being alone and present, not worrying. Funny ideas would come up. Some were really good, just like the ones people get when they smoke pot except I could remember them afterwards.
When my ankles hurt from too much running, (another nerdy thing is I never know when to stop doing anything like running or talking), I took up biking. I didn’t do the cool type of biking, like mountain biking or touring. I became a bike commuter. Most bike commuters have been nerds unless they have dui’s. Bike commuting is another outsider sport. It’s not sexy like roller blading, roller derby or even owning your own car.
Maybe that’s what it means to be a nerd. Nerds are the opposite of sexy. Sexy is not having stains or lint on your clothes. Sexy is cool. I have never been cool. I once had a man tell me I should wear sunglasses so that I could appear more cool. I honestly thought sunglasses were for eye protection and my eyes never hurt in the sun.
Now,in mental health recovery, I often look back to the many years when I didn’t know what to call what I was dealing with. I guess I can finally own who I am and celebrate a little. My closet is full of inappropriate costumes. I even own a Tommy Hilfiger rain dress. It’s so short I have to wear leggings underneath it but then tunics are so in now. I’m sure some people question the sanity of a woman of indeterminate age wearing a waterproof mini frock but then I can always tell them. Pardon me, I’m a nerd.