It’s never been a better time to be a nerd. Back in the mists of Time - when I was a kid - nerds were represented by the likes of Potsie Webber. Later, nerds got their revenge, but they were still not icons to inspire the sincerest form of flattery. Who wanted to dress like Lewis Skolnick with his unflattering glasses, twin pocket protectors, and a haircut straight out of Leave it to Beaver? Sure he got the girl, but this achievement did not result in increased sales in checked shirts.
Flash forward to the present and nerds have come into their own. Ever since Doctor Who proclaimed, “Bowties are cool!” the fashion accessory has been making a comeback. Don’t believe me? Check out the upcoming Oscars. I guarantee you’ll see many of the celebrities sporting the once nerdish neck-ware.
In my personal opinion, a lot of the upsurge in nerd power has to do with the popularity of The Big Bang Theory. Here the nerd stereotype is milked for humour, but never demeaned in a malicious manner. It could be argued that the characters are geeks, but I believe they are nerdy geeks. No doubt some geeky or nerdy reader may want to debate this point and I’d be more than happy to entertain such a topic. I see myself with a foot in both camps.
Which brings me to my children. They too fluctuate between the geek and nerd worlds. When it comes to Star Wars trivia Mitchell is a pure geek. The same goes for Sylvia with respect to Harry Potter. However, when it comes to school, they are nerd through and through. More so than I ever was. This was illustrated when Mitchell informed us that he was retaking a math test.
“I want to get my mark up,” he explained.
“But you got 91 per cent,” I said. If I had ever received such a mark I would have strutted around like a junior Einstein. Of course, I’m having to imagine this, as I never approached such a result in trigonometry. Sixty per cent would have sent me over the moon!
“I can do better,” he said.
“What happens if you do worse?” I asked.
“My mark will go down,” he calmly answered.
I looked at him, wondering if he had been replaced by an alien entity. The Sackville Cuckoos? Having received such a high mark, I would never have risked it. I mentioned to him the idea of having a bird in the hand and its comparative worth, but he was determined. I admired his confidence and drive. It must have been picked up from Lydia!
Sylvia is the same as the brother. When Lydia and I gushed over her latest report card we noticed Sylvia’s lack of enthusiasm. Instead of looking at the positive aspects, she pointed to one of her grades and said she should have done better.
“It’s ninety-eight!” I said.
“It should have been a hundred,” she sighed.
I looked at Sylvia, wearing her ‘soft kitty, warm kitty’ T-shirt and TARDIS earrings. Mitchell was downstairs reading. No doubt about it, my kids were nerds and proud of it - and that was cool.
Kevin Toal is a freelance writer and geeky nerd.