Sorry about the delay this week. The Best Girlfriend in the Whole World treated me to a spa day on Friday. So, instead of writing about all things Geek, I spent the day getting soaked, scrubbed, wrapped, massaged, manicured and pedicured and moisturized. I am clean and soft in places one would not ordinarily think needed a whole lot of either scrubbing or moisturizing, but it was good. Yes, I am bragging.
Now, down to business, for the day job, I work at a university, and I’m pretty open about my Geekness. I’ve got a huge collection of Devil Duckies in my office, a Nightcrawler statuette on my shelf, pulp sci-fi novel cover postcards taped to my file cabinets and an ever-changing array of anime character wallpapers on my computer.
Earlier this week, a student was waiting for one of my faculty and was hanging out in my office. He commented on my ducks, and I told him that they were one of the few things I collected that no one would object to. So he asked me what else I collected, and I told him, comics and action figures. In fact, I told him, I had actually financed a move by selling action figures and Lego sets on Ebay.
At the mention of comics, his eyes lit up.
“I used to collect comics,” he said. “I had the first 50 Wolverines. He was always my favorite. I used to collect a lot of other X-men offshoots, too, even though I never actually collected the X-men.”
“Yeah, I’ve got the first 175 or so of Excalibur,” I said.
“Wow! I had those, too!”
So, we talked about my Nightcrawler tattoo, and how he’d thought that was what it was, but he hadn’t wanted to ask (sometimes I wear capri pants in the summer, and it’s on my calf). Then the faculty member called him into his office. He was still beaming at me as he left, even after what sounded like a fairly brutal assessment of his work.
I’m pretty sure there will be more Geeky conversations with this guy in the future. I hope so, he’s a good guy. And maybe I can get him back in touch with his inner Geek. Part of this makes me a little sad, though. I mean, he had apparently decided at some point that his love for comics was something he needed to set aside in spite of it having obviously not waned. And I just don’t get that.
It’s the same thing with gaming. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come out of the Gamer Closet to have people talk to me about how they used to game, but they don’t anymore. There are a variety of reasons for this, no time, no money, no gaming group, had kids…
I felt the pressure, too, to put aside “childish” things and be an adult. Fortunately, in my father, I had an excellent example of how not to do that. Which is not to say that my dad is not an adult, but he’s a Star Trek watching, sci-fi reading, Lego and model train collecting adult with a closet full of Nerf Guns and water pistols. Tradition holds that every Christmas, everyone in the family gets one shooty toy that is safe to fire in the house, and once the presents are unwrapped, the combat begins. So, really, as far as “childish” hobbies, my father has got nothing to say.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a dad like that. Or anyone in their life to tell them that it’s ok to collect comic books, or it’s ok to still play role-playing games. Not everyone who does either of these things into adulthood is a creepy, middle-aged, balding guy with a bad ponytail who lives in Superman shirts and breathes through his mouth. Actually, very, very few of us match that description. Most of us go through our lives, and you would never know what kind of geeks we might be.
In fact, frequently when I let the Freak Flag fly and let people in on the secret, I get a whole lot of, “No way! You? But you dress all stylish, and you’re well-spoken. You have social skills.” I’m here to tell you that Geekitude is not mutually exclusive to style, eloquence or maturity, people. There is no earthly reason to give up the things you love outside of physical or financial constraints.* Just because someone tells you “adults don’t do X” is no reason to give it up if you love it.
One major complaint, particularly about gaming, is that it takes up too much time for folks who now have 40-hour a week jobs, kids, lives. And granted, Mr. Geek Girl What Rules and I don’t have children (we can barely discipline the cats), but we have plenty of gaming friends who do have kids. Some of them don’t have a gaming spouse, so they split childcare duties so one can play while the other watches the kids. Some of them, when the kids have gotten older, have gotten the kids involved in gaming. Some of them hire babysitters so that both of them can play, or have arranged babysitting with grandma, or the spouse or teenager of someone else in the gaming group. There are work arounds for the kids issue.
As far as the time issue, with or without kids, play once a month. Or only play one-offs so that you don’t have to feel like you’re forgetting too much in between sessions of a long campaign. I have two long campaigns that meet once a month, if that. I also have one every other week game, and a weekly Sunday game. But you don’t have to game that much to keep yourself in it. Designate one evening or afternoon a month where you get together and play a few hands of “Kill Dr. Lucky” or “Faeries” or “Don’t Rest Your Head” or “Primetime Adventures.”
As for comics, find yourself a good comic shop. In Seattle, I highly recommend the Dreaming on University Way. Get a subscription box if they offer that service, and start out small. Find one or two comics you can’t live without. Pick them up each time they arrive. You’ll find it far less overwhelming to pick up one or two issues than to let them back up to an unmanageable amount. At home, decide how much space you’re going to dedicate to them, and stick to it. Or, if you don’t feel like collecting the individual issues, pick up graphic novels. You’ll have to wait longer but they usually come in complete story arcs and they’re sturdier and easier to store.
I guess mostly what I’m saying here, is don’t let being an adult crush that spark inside of you that wants to fly, or beat up bad guys, or rescue the damsel (or handsome young man) in distress. Read comics, game, read fairy tales (and not just to your kids). Don’t give up on your imagination, and don’t let reality beat that out of you.
*Trust me, I know how much room comics take up. Oh, do I.