My students are always surprised when I cheerfully accept my nerdiness. This is because they're at an age when labels are extremely important to a lot of them. Even those who are more individualistic are at the mercy of having labels used against them as taunts, so having an adult embrace being a dreaded "nerd," "geek," or even "goody two shoes" (someone invariably asks me in the first few weeks if I was a kid who got into trouble, and I answer quite honestly, "Nope!"). But really, I think I came out of the womb a nerd.
As a huge fan of cartoons, comics, and Star Trek, the great loves of my childhood were
I had a lot of love for Michelangelo as well, but I recall as I reached the ripe old age of 8 or 9 realizing the magnificence that is Donatello. A dude who could build a sweet sewer-themed computer one second and beat somebody with a bo the next? SWEET! (...Is it just me, or does his shell look like it is in no way connected to his body in this picture? Additionally, I still sometimes ind myself humming the theme song to the ooold original series. Ah. Memories!)
Oh, my 10-year-old heart was yours, Egon. Your ridiculous hair. Your deep, awesome voice. Your pink suspenders. Only for you would I get up before 7 on a Saturday. It's a shame I thought the movie was meant to be scary instead of funny until a few years later; then I loved your real life incarnation as well.<3 (If you can stand the incredible pathos, one of Egon's best cartoon eps is right here on YouTube: "Egon's Ghost.")
I met Brainy in the grade where being smart stopped being cool and started being something to be tortured over. And by "met" I mean, of course, read. He was a character who was brilliant, and a bit weird, but still awesome and had incredible friends. My mother proved her love for me by taking me all over the southern US on my quest for his comics, and one of my fondest birthday memories is when my brother spent something in the ballpark of 10 bucks on Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes back issues for me at $0.25 a piece. We may have our differences, but there are times we definitely get each other. Awwww. Poor Querl has been through several incarnations since then in which he was a stereotypical brilliant jerk, but he's hovering on being his old self these days (I think Johns wrote him better than Levitz is, but that's just life).
And the man to whom my little heart belonged (and a bit always will *girlish sigh*):
Dr. Leonard McCoy
I grew up on Star Trek. Is it really necessary to explain why Bones is the most awesome fictional character in the history of pop culture? No? I didn't think so. If for some strange reason you DO need to know: he's cranky, he's Southern, he's gentle, he's kind, he's stubborn, he's basically fantastic.
(....It doesn't hurt my feelings to think of Bones as looking like Karl Urban, but I adore De Kelley. He was such an incredible gentleman.)
This isn't to say that I didn't embrace traditionally "girly" things. While nerdy, I also had affection for My Little Ponies (mine knew all the songs from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack), Barbies (they were trapped in kidnapping plots on a regular basis), and the New Kids on the Block (Joey was my favorite). But growing up nerd was still basic to my psyche!
I realize that embracing the label of "nerd" doesn't exactly teach them to stop trying to categorize themselves, but maybe it takes away some of the sting when labels are used against them.
It's also fun confusing them because they're so trapped in their little boxes that they have a VERY difficult time wrapping their minds around a nerd who likes big, girly earrings and doing her nails.
Poor little brains, going into meltdown. *patpat*