I was a jock in high school.
I was a nerd in high school.
Those two statements are equally accurate. It’s just that I was in the lower echelon of each clique, leaving me in the unique position of feeling unaccepted by both classic high school social strata.
To use sports parlance (which I understand would have been lost on the traditional nerd), I was a classic ‘tweener: not smart or creative enough to fit in with the nerds, and more intellectually capable than your average jock. But apparently my breathtaking ability to score roughly 2.1 baskets per high school basketball game was enough to fool everyone into thinking I had been categorized properly.
It was only as an adult that I realized I should have picked sides a long time ago and saddled up with the nerds, with whom I truly belonged.
I’m not trying to go all Zooey Deschanel on you here and give you the “adorkable” schtick, retroactively attaching myself to modern nerd culture because I was a vaguely fun-loving, impossibly goofy yet misunderstood oddball. What I’m trying to say is I missed out on the opportunity to acquire better training for what I was destined to be, which was a giant goddamned Nerd.
Bear with me, if you will, and consider my nerd application, via this body of evidence:
- I was in 4-H. The only person out of roughly 987 students who spent his summers slapping a pig around a ring in shirts that even Garth Brooks would find overly countryfied. (If that sounds more country than nerdy, imagine Chris Gaines for a second).
- I would proudly exhibit to anyone who wanted to know (which was no one, another quintessential nerd trait) that I could recite the daily and nightly TV lineup from 1985-1990
- I had an even more extensive encyclopedic knowledge of Saturday Night Live, which meant that when my friends wanted to go outside to toilet paper houses, drink, and party with girls, I would have preferred a debate about the comparative merits of “Weekend Update” anchors
- At age 12, my favorite movie was Monty Python and the Holy Grail
- That same year, in a jarring collision of my predilections (TV, hogs, writing), I penned a story for my English class about a porcine detective named Magnum P.I.G., who wore a suit (ya know, just like Selleck) and inexplicably ate corn off the floor whenever he got hungry. (There were illustrations).
- What’s more, the only athletic honor I ever received was something called the “Coaches Award,” which to this day I am convinced was bestowed upon me only because I became a willing ear for my coach, who was going through a tough divorce. (This may not even be “nerdy” per se, but it is the absolute polar opposite of athletic accomplishment, and therefore falls to the latter end of the jock/nerd high school spectrum).
That’s not to mention that right out of college I became a sports writer and a standup comedian, which along with comic book geek and scientist could form some sort of Nerd Voltron. In case you didn’t notice, I just made a Voltron reference like it wasn’t even a big deal.
Which brings us to the present, where the lines of distinction between nerd pursuits and pop culture trends have long since been blurred – how’s your fantasy team doing? – and people have more posters on their wall of DeGrasse Tyson than Mike Tyson.
This issue is dedicated to nerdier pursuits, and moreover is a tribute to the nerd’s ascension into the mainstream. Legos and leather jackets carry the same timeless cool in our new world, a place where we can all live in perfect harmony, jocks, nerds, and everyone else, hand in hand.
Except for people who like The Big Bang Theory.
That show sucks, nerds.
Travis Hoewischer, Editor-in-Chief