Oh, what a geek I am. I admit it, and will tell you how it all began...
|I have never been cool.
God knows I wanted to be...God knows I tried. But alas, I have thus far failed in my lifelong pursuit of cool.
A geek from the get-go, I can pinpoint the exact event which sealed my dorky fate: One humid mid-summer day, my dad arrived home from a baseball game he'd umpired. Before entering the house, he placed all his sweaty equipment on the porch so its funk wouldn't bother my immaculate mother.
Four-year-old me happened upon this equipment while frolicking in the front yard. I saw his cup and, imaginative little sucker that I was, decided it would make a great mask. Having no idea what its true, private purpose was, I quickly fashioned a fastener from a large rubber band and paraded around the neighborhood in an obscenely naive dance of innocence - my father's cup securely attached to my grinning face.
Dad came outside, took one look at me, and grabbed the cup away. His face red, all he could choke out was "that's dirty."
Oh, so un-cool.
It didn't help that I was all bones-and-angles - an underweight, shy little girl and hopelessly uncoordinated.
Can you say "last one picked for the (insert any sport) team in gym class?"
I cowered, slouching, hoping nobody noticed my stick legs in the required gym shorts, wishing to be anyplace else. The only sport (if you can call it a sport) I ever mastered (if you can call it mastered) was dodge-ball. I was quick, and so skinny that a well-aimed ball at point-blank range could easily miss me.
Volleyball? Team-mates came crashing into me to hit the ball they knew I'd miss.
Softball? I struck out every single time.
I wasn't even cool inside my own home. An only child, I had no comparatively cool elder siblings to emulate; as a result, I was a mess. I'd stare in hypochondriac horror at two teeny, orange St. Joseph's baby aspirin mom handed me when I complained of a headache.
"I don't want to take those!" I whined over her protests that she'd never give me anything that would hurt me.
I suppose I believed her intellectually, but some eerie inner voice declared I had brain tumors which would only worsen rapidly upon ingestion of the evil orange pills. After an hour or so of Mom's convincing, I'd choke down the tiny, chalky pills and pensively plan my funeral service.
When feeling particularly healthy, I'd sometimes sit on the shag carpet in the living room (with full regalia of braces and headgear) and play Monopoly by myself. Yes, folks, I'd be banker and card-dealer and all eight players too, content with my parents' hi-fi and the soundtrack to The Pink Panther as I won (and lost) game after game after solo game. How un-cool is that?
I'll list just a few of the many un-cool acts I've perpetrated throughout my un-cool life:
I gobbled books incessantly, including such illustrious literary masterpieces as the choose-your-own-adventure series, the Sweet Valley High page-turners, and just about anything by V.C. Andrews up until her ghost writer took over the job.
I plugged my nose to swim underwater (actually, I still do that one).
My favorite show was "Little House on the Prairie" ...and yes, when given the chance, I'll still watch the exciting invented adventures of pig-tailed Laura.
I was afraid of tornado-watches and would retreat to the basement to roller skate and determine safe positioning for the twister's direct hit on my upstate New York, natural-disaster-free town.
I sang in chorus - every single year from fifth grade through the last year of college.
I ran home crying when the boys across the street told me they were going to blow up my house with an M-80 on the fourth of July.
Oh, and I wore plaid, burnt orange-colored jumpsuits. (Though I suppose that part wasn't really my fault. Let's face it - the 70s was an un-cool decade, fashion-wise, to be a kid).
Flash forward to my teens. My music? An endless litany of 80s pop, all fluff and synthesizer. You know the stuff: Duran Duran. Human League. Culture Club. I actually penned stories, serial fashion, in which I mail myself to Boy George in a box and - get this - he marries me. I guess I was convinced of his heterosexuality beneath all that makeup and sashay.
I had no indoctrination whatsoever into the world of anything but Top-40 music until my first year of college, when a random Deadhead handed me a joint and put on Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon."
If memory serves me, I actually cried. The epiphany was too much for my dorky brain to handle. It was cool overload.
Drug experimentation didn't really work out for me because - that's right, good guess - I could never keep my cool. I'd be the one collapsed on the dorm room floor, liquids pouring from every facial orifice. Laughing with a contorted face, tears pouring from my slit-eyes, snot running from my nose, drool strings reaching the floor.
What a mess.
I wore a hippie Halloween costume that year but couldn't even pull anything remotely cool out of my argyle-sweater and highwater pants wardrobe. (The "Woodstock or Bust" sign that I hung around my neck with string didn't help matters).
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Needless to say, that costume was not cool.
I'd have to say that my geekiest moment ever came in my senior year of college. I was hippie-minded and so attended a Gulf War protest.
They had a microphone set up in this outdoor square and you could get in line and say whatever you wanted about the whole thing. Some people were quite eloquent, too, with intelligently thought-out arguments and interesting points. Now I know you don't want to hear this but I got in line, and when it came my turn to speak, I realized I had absolutely nothing to say.
A thousand eyes were me as I stepped up to the microphone.
I said "let it be," then turned and walked away. That's it. I don't think you want to hear any more about that one.
I suppose I've had a few moments of cool here and there, but the majority have been on the Steve Urkel side of the cool spectrum. I don't mind so much, though. In 1999, I met my match - Andy.
One day early in our relationship, Andy and I were playing pool in a bar. I whacked clumsily into an ashtray and watched it roll end-over-end across the floor, scattering butts and ashes messily in its wake. The event climaxed in one of those brassy-loud circle-wobbles that goes on and on.
"Wow," I thought. "I just ruined it with THIS guy!"
Andy shrugged it off, however, and we kept playing. Not five minutes later, I dropped my oh-so-full glass of red wine in a horrific spaz of splash and shatter, and again thought I'd blown it.
"It's okay," Andy said calmly, smiling as though being un-cool was nothing bad at all.
"You're just kind of spilly," he added.
Fourteen months later, I married Andy.
Now we have a little boy and a small house, and we're pretty happy in our own geeky way.
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Now THAT’s cool.