I make and sell geeky jewelry. Since a girl cannot live by ladies nights and cons alone, I sell at a lot of local craft fairs. These fairs are often sadly bereft of folks I call “the people.” Most fairgoers are your traditional soccer moms, who walk right by my geekbait. After all, I’m one of many, many jewelry people. Still, I pitch anyway,“I have geeky, comic book and natural stone jewelry.” This pitch sometimes results in a chuckle at the word ‘geeky,’ and, thankfully, a second look. Some will browse, maybe pick up something for their resident familial black sheep, and move on.
However, most of my business does not come from the soccer mom legion using my booth as a break between festive wreath purchases. Most of my business comes from “the people.” Their arrival is marked by a flash of pink hair, a Hufflepuff bag, a clever t-shirt, or simply a “EEEEEE” from across the aisle and then…. the awesome ensues.
“Oh my goodness, look at the Doctor stuff…do you have 10?”
“YOU HAVE MS. MARVEL NO ONE CARRIES MS. MARVEL!”
“Do you have Harry Potter, but for grown ups?”
“Um..I like classic Harley…do you have, OH MY GOODNESS”
Behold my people. These folks are not customers, they’re new friends because every sale is a conversation. Whether it’s about Peter Capaldi vs. David Tennant, the brilliance of TaNahisi Coates’ Black Panther, or Rey’s possible parentage, conversation flows easily much to the bafflement of bystanders. These conversations, even the playful arguments, are the best thing in the world, and being geeky is everything that is good and right about being human; makes us all better people.
I know that seems like a big leap, but stay with me. The one thing all geeks have in common is unbridled enthusiasm. In a world where “meh” is the default, geeks care deeply, it’s what defines them. Technically, a geek is anyone who loves something more than the social status it confers, or who loves something despite the opinions of others. That means there are geeks in all professions. If you don’t believe me, watch the best TED talks where people get 20 min and a platform upon which to professionally geek out. For example, this video of a NASA scientist talking about Titan is awesome. She obviously is not comfortable, but there she is, rocking it hard because dammit, she effing LOVES SPACE.
That passion is what makes geeks amazing people to know. From Potterheads to Bronies and Marvelites to Trekkers, I’ve spent hours reveling in other people’s geekouts. When shared things bring us joy, connection, and involvement in the greater world, and there can be nothing better. These fandoms also give us the community our insular neighborhoods no longer provide. Through fandoms, our new neighborhoods, we can connect with each other and make quick friends of strangers.
These communities don’t share their interests, they act on them. From the Carol Corps cancer project, to the Bronies creating a continuum of consent for their con attendees, to members of Dumbledor’s Army pressuring Nestle to improve the sourcing of the chocolate in Harry Potter candies, geeks can do great things together. Another example for the word nerds in the house, Worldbuilders, started by author and geek overlord Patrick Rothfuss. Each year geeky people of all stripes raise money for Heifer International this year, they raised 2.5 million dollars. Their only reward; this video of Rothfuss kissing a llama:
So while our geekiness can make us hard to understand, get us into fights, and make us seem odd, geekdom makes life more fun. So, when people seem puzzled, smile knowingly and realize that you are part of a community that loves deeply, and that is a rare and special gift.
Here’s to a geeky 2017
Lisa Pavia-Higel is a St. Louis based writer, educator and performer. By day, she’s a mild mannered Communication and Media professor at a local community college and runs her own small jewelry company, Geekery Gal. By night, she’s a stage combat fighting, comic reading, critique writing, productivity advice giving mama. She loves trying things that she’s really not very good at, like sewing, painting and writing succinct biographies. She is indulged by her little geeklet Sofia and intrepid feminist, geeky husband Matthew. She’s too long winded for Twitter, but you can tweet to her at @geekerygal