When I was in Grade Seven (that’s 7th grade to our American audience, First Form for our UK audience and First Year for our Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry audience), my class kicked off the transition from primary to secondary school with a bit of show and tell. The teacher asked us all to bring our favorite book and describe why it meant so much to us.
At this point, like most preteen (I’m not using tween, you can’t make me) kids, I’m desperate to find friends. After six years of going to the kind of school where you get your nose broken for not wearing sweatpants (as opposed to the opposite, rational choice of only wearing clothes that make you look like you’ve given up on life inside your home), I finally had a chance to escape the stigma of being the geeky, sensitive kid, the kind of kid that cries when people say mean things to him, who didn’t understand other kids very well, who wasn’t very good at sports.
We are seated alphabetically: next up is Jennifer, then me. Jennifer gets up in front of the class, visibly nervous in a formless dress that looked like something that Ma Ingalls would have picked out for Laura on Little House on the Prairie. She pulls a small book out of her backpack, with a leather cover and a gold title. She speaks of her church, of its founder Joseph Smith, of the golden plates and latter-day saints. The class sits in bemused silence, a blend of incomprehension and stifled giggles.
As Jennifer sits down, face flushed with shame, I stand up, stride confidently to the front of the class, and produce my own book. I slide it out of my backpack and thrust it before me with both hands, its worn cover and inexplicably hot chocolate-stained pages my banner – my talisman – my shield. I exclaim in my squeaky voice, lips parted by braces:
“This – this is my Book of Mormon.”
I am holding the Star Trek Encyclopedia.
Peals of laughter burst out – actual, Nelson-style fingers are pointed.
I am doomed.
And so it went. With one gesture, I had secured another three years of being bullied, of being that kid, of constant reminders that I would never fit in, that I was weird and uncool.
I wouldn’t change a thing – not just because duh, no shit, every kid at that age feels like they don’t fit in and that they’re weird, you’re not unique, Colin, stop talking to yourself in third person, it’s creeping everyone on the bus out – but the few kids in the class who didn’t laugh, who came to me days, months, years later, with offers of nights watching Voyager, LAN parties of Duke Nukem 3D, of unimaginable litres of Jolt Cola and despair at staying up all night to watch The Phantom Menace at the premiere the next day.
In the end, I found where I fit; my tribe of geeks. That’s what makes me so happy to join the d20crit team, to work and play with the amazing talents of Wil and Tris, to read the joy and care in Adrienne’s lovely eulogy for the consummate outsider. It’s so nice to find new friends – a new community that – ahem – embraces the geek.
I’m here to yap about a bunch of stuff, so please bear with me as I get my feet under me, here. There will be lots of stuff about tech, science, the internet and spaaaaaaaaace. Also ultra-n00b D&D recaps as I try and figure out a game while being systematically shot full of arrows by Wil.