I rummaged through my purse for my debit card, eyes down, concentrating, mumbling, "Uh...yeah...they're for flags."
My eyes darted up to meet hers and she crinkled her nose in confusion.
"Flags...?" Her eyes got rounder. Had she never heard of flags?
I tried again, "Like party decorations?" I asked, hoping she would just hand me the receipt and I wouldn't have to give details to someone who wouldn't understand anyway. I don't want to be at Wal-Mart all night after all.
"Oh, a party!" she exclaimed, a slow understanding breaking through her expression, "have fun then."
My sigh of relief was audible as I snatched up the plastic bags, crinkling them in my fists and bolting for the car.
You see, it's hard for me to explain sometimes. Yep. It's hard to explain to the checkout girl at Wal-Mart that I need flat sheets to make flags for the Rebel Alliance.
Sometimes it's difficult to tell people that I named my car Geordi La Forge. I can't always find the right time to tell someone I'm dating that I've seen every episode of Star Gate. When people talk about Warcraft I have trouble not chiming in about my Blood Elf. I don't need much provoking to start quoting The Princess Bride. If you hang around long enough, I will show you my comic books. God help me if you start to talk about code. I just can't contain it.
A few weeks ago a coworker started explaining Skyrim to me as though I might pick up a controller and try to use it as a boomerang, or possibly a fancy light-up paperweight. It was all I could do to not explain to him in extreme detail how to complete the Diplomatic Immunity quest. It's not that hard dude, seriously.
But I keep those things to myself. I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea.
There's a certain stigma that surrounds the "geek" persona. As the following description notes (ripped straight from Wikipedia):
- (Novelist) Julie Smith defined a geek as "a bright young man turned inward, poorly socialized, who felt so little kinship with his own planet that he routinely traveled to the ones invented by his favorite authors, who thought of that secret, dreamy place his computer took him to as cyberspace—somewhere exciting, a place more real than his own life, a land he could conquer, not a drab teenager's room in his parents' house."
That's just not me (apart from the caffeine). But it seems to completely throw people for a loop when any of that stuff comes out. Suddenly they forget that I'm an accomplished, athletic, outgoing, and somewhat cocky person (yeah, sometimes I'm a jerk). Out of seemingly nowhere it becomes assumed that I don't have a grip on reality, that I lack for friends, or that I'm pretending to be someone I'm not.
I'm not busting on anyone in particular, rather I'm just wondering: why can't we have a little fun and still be perceived as competent adults? Is it really that strange that I'm capable of paying the mortgage while wearing furry bat wings? Why is it so hard to believe that I can spend 12 hours a day on the internet and also manage to shower on a regular basis?
Back in February I asked on Facebook if people make assumptions about you based on your appearance. And if so, what assumptions do they make?
The reason I asked that question is that I've been struck lately by how differently I'm treated depending on how I'm dressed. When I'm in my normal street clothes, for skating or wandering around, police cars slow down and follow me like I stole something. When I'm slightly better dressed, men yell at me from their cars like I'm a hooker. When I put on slacks I'm respected. When I wear a dress I'm pretty. When I glam up for a night out dancing I'm treated like a vapid, empty headed moron. And none of this has anything to do with who I really am.
There's no real point I'm trying to make here. Just that the older I get the more I see the way we subtract from people. Oversimplifying. Distilling them down so they are easier to categorize. I want to practice seeing the world around me as more and more, instead of less and less. I would like the people in my life to be as complex as they really are, without dumbing it down or being a caricature of only one piece of their personality.
Don't just be the sporty one, or the smart one, or the one who likes cats, or the funny one, or the quiet one. Be exactly who you are, and be all of it.