Monday, January 16, 2012

Secret (Geeky) Origins!

My wife and I were talking, as we do often, about what things were like when we were young. Mainly about things like television, movies, and music. It was definitely a different time back then and, of course, reminiscing about bygone days usually makes them seem better then they were. This is especially true when thinking about old t.v. shows that I used to watch as a kid. Two of my favorites were Ultra-Man and Speed Racer. Looking back on them now, I always get a chuckle and wonder just how I thought they were so great. Of course, in my defense, I was just a kid.

All that said, though, it did get me to thinking about just when, exactly, I realized that I was different from other kids. The term different referring to my love of science fiction and fantasy or, 'geeky', as they say these days.

Now, as the legend goes....told by an old bard  (my mother)....I learned to read before I was in kindergarten. She's always told the tale of how, at a parent/teacher conference, my teacher asked her what they were doing at home that had taught me how to read so well. My mother's answer was....absolutely nothing. Not that she said that proudly, it's just how it was. They never read to me or encouraged me to read in any other manner besides giving me Golden Books and comic books. Mom later observed that I had taught myself to read by watching Mister Roger's Neighborhood and Sesame Street. Again, this is her tale, so I can't really validate it 100%. I do remember, though, being able to recognize words in kindergarten and knowing what they meant when I saw them on paper.

Anyway, the gist of the legend is that I started reading comic books at a very early age. Everything from Archie, Sad Sack, Richie Rich, and Batman. As I got older the list grew and branched out into actual novels...The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, etc. Whether it was because I liked to spend my time reading and drawing, things that made me use my imagination, I ever got into such things as watching sports (though I always played them, oddly enough) or more (at the time) 'socially acceptable' things. Back then, if you told someone you read comic books it would garner, at the very least, odd looks....especially if you were older.

So, it was back in 1978 when I realized that I wasn't, exactly, like everyone else. I remember seeing a preview for a t.v. show called The Return of Captain Nemo and counting down the days until it was on. While I don't remember how great of a show it really was, I remember my ten year old self thought it was pretty darn cool. The next day at school we were going somewhere for a field trip and I was asking people on the bus how they liked that Captain Nemo show. Not a kid on that bus had watched it.

I was stunned. So stunned, as a matter of fact, that I still remember it, to this day, just how stunned I was. I mean, really?? I had thought everyone would be as excited about watching it as I had been and they'd all be chomping at the bit to talk about it. Nope. Nothing. I remember going home and telling my mom just how flabbergasted I was that no one had even watched Captain Nemo. She just smiled and told me that it was o.k., and that we all liked different things.

It was on that bus, during a school field trip, that I realized that I was a little (arguably) different from the rest. While I was watching things like The Return of Captain Nemo, they were watching baseball and football. While I was reading and drawing, they were collecting baseball cards and jumping their bikes over makeshift ramps. It wasn't that I ever 'felt' different, but I knew I wasn't considered 'the norm'.

It's funny how things turn and enjoying comic books, science fiction, and fantasy doesn't carry quite the social stigma it did back when I was young.

So, if you're of the 'geeky' persuasion, when did YOU realize that you weren't quite like everyone else?

What's your "Geeky Origin"?


Shen Hart said...

I wasn't a 'true' geek, more an oddball. (Should be present tense I know). While everyone was watching x-files and cartoons, I was watching animal documentaries. They went shopping, I climbed trees and read about animal anatomy and physiology. When I was in high school it shifted to genetics, plotting the end of the world.. lol

Mark Means said...

You weren't watching X-Files or cartoons?? You sound as if you were a Bizarro-Geek, with all your learning stuff :P

***Dave said...

"The Return of Capt. Nemo" -- that the one with Miguel Ferrer? Or was it Jose? I remember thinking it was pretty cool -- but, then, that was in an era when *anything* SF-wise on TV was cool ... even "Logan's Run" or "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century". We live in a Golden Age of TV SF, my friend.

Oh, and I watched every "Speed Racer" cartoon at least a dozen times (and bits of dialog still pop up in it now and again). Loved that show and it's crazy Racer X soap opera. Loved it enough to sit through the movie, even.

Never got as much into Ultra Man, which seemed to always have the same plot (Giant Rubber Monster attacks! Ultra Man fights! Ultra Man runs out of power! Giant Rubber Monster looks like it will win! Ultra Man gets power from somewhere and SAVES THE DAY! Rinse. Repeat).

Mark Means said...

I think it was Jose, he's the dad, right? You're right, back then anything sci-fi oriented got my attention. I remember (back in the days before cable t.v., of course) reading something in the T.V. Guide about a show called "The Avengers" and I got so excited thinking they had made a show from the comic. Boy, was I disappointed at seeing a black and white show about a british guy in a bowler :) I agree, t.v. isn't what it used to be.

Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy Speed Racer and Ultra Man...just not with the child like exuberance I had when I was young. I own three seasons of Speed Racer on DVD as well as the entire Ultra Man series and break them out, every once in a while, to solidify my geek roots!

Nagzilla said...

I was a full blown geek at the age of seven, after I saw Star Wars. I was obsessed with it and had all the toys. Had I been a boy, it probably wouldn't have been so unusual, but while all the other girls were playing with their kitchen sets and Barbies, I was piloting the Millennium Falcon and swinging light sabers.

Now I'm raising another generation of geek, as my daughter is completely into anime (and has dragged me along for the ride), cosplay, and minecraft.

Mark Means said...

I think Star Wars was the 'gateway drug' for a lot of us...I know it helped shaped my geekdom, as well :)

I think it's great that you're fulfilling your parental duty by raising your daughter up with geekyness :D

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