Geeks shall inherit the earth

My friend Alex has a new book out today by that very title, go buy it on amazon! Dooo ittt. I’ll wait.

*taps foot*

Done? Ooh, how about you buy one for your mom too! Don’t worry, I won’t start my post till you get back.

*files nails*

There! Now isn’t that better than that awful Jane Seymour necklace?! I thought it would be.

Anyway, so while reading Geeks, a book which follows 7 “outsiders,” through their high school experience, I seriously kept curling up in a ball of post traumatic stress disorder. I wasn’t just a geek in school, I was apparently all of these geeks. Except the popular one. I hate her so much.

All the people I’m friends with now are self proclaimed geeks/nerds/weirdos/murderers…wait… I think I promised secrecy on that last one.

Please don’t kill me. No, really. Don’t kill me.

But I’m also friends with the smartest, funniest, cleverest most talented people in the world, so, I’m pretty much all-in on the premise of the book that “geeks” are pretty awesome.

Alas, as I relived the horrors of finding a place to sit at lunch or fighting with a faculty adviser over the direction of one of my afterschool clubs, I decided the story I wanted to blog about is one that takes place long after high school.

Well, 1999, so not that long, but I was 2/3 of the way through law school, I had lost all the high school weight and I was making about $2000 a week, so it was as far away from my high school experience as you could get without a time machine.

I went to a rich prep school in the predominantly white neighborhood of Bay Ridge. I was black and dirt poor and, given that Yusef Hawkins had just been murdered for being a black boy in a white neighborhood, totally terrified. My mother, God bless her, would warn me every day to “be careful of those white folks.” Awesome. Great. Terrific. 95% of my classmates were white, 100% of my teachers were white.

I didn’t find much comfort in the black community at my high school either. They were athletes and I wheezed at the mere thought of gym. Plus, I listened to Billy Joel, not “rap music.”

So, my friends were other geeks and nerds, mostly frail white boys I would boss around and make join the clubs I founded. I won President of Debate club every year in a landslide. I founded the chess club and the golf club and the Manifest Destiny club and the German club… yes, there might have been a six step “take over the world plan” involved.

We kept to ourselves and frankly, except for when I was plucked out of my comfort zone for the annual President’s fitness test or homeroom, I had a happy high school existence.

On this particular evening, six years after my graduation, I was at a law firm sponsored event at a fancy Times Square restaurant when I spied “Becky,” at another table. Becky was my high school opposite. She was white and rich (well, probably middle class, but I was dirt poor and anyone who had a car was pretty much Bill Gates in my eyes.) and popular and, it goes without saying, a cheerleader. She had a car and probably dated. I did not speak to Becky. EVER. But, my graduating class only had 93 kids in it, so it wasn’t like we didn’t know each other.

So, there I was, I see Becky at this other table. I’ve been eating and drinking on my corporate account, and did I say drinking? God, I miss the 90s! So I’m in a great mood. I decide to send over a round of drinks to Becky’s table and say hi.

“Stephane! Oh my God. Thank you so much.”

“No problem!”

And then she hugged me, and said “I always thought you hated me in high school! You would never speak to me or anything.”

Whoa.

Dude. Of course, I never spoke to you! You were a cheerleader! What on earth would I say to you? Why would you even want me to speak to you?

But she was right. I would see her and her friends in the hall and pass them by as if they didn’t exist. When one of the guys in her clique made it into AP American history, MY DOMAIN, so far as I was concerned, my friends and I totally didn’t speak to him. And we kinda laughed when he screwed up the exam. That’s what he gets for trying to be “smart.”

I didn’t hate them though, I just sorta assumed that they didn’t like me, so I wasn’t going to like them either! I saw Carrie, I know what popular kids are about! No one was pigs blooding me, I tell you whut!

I made assumptions about what they were assuming about me and acted accordingly. Read: Ignore. Who knows, maybe I could have been friends with the popular crowd. Maybe Becky would have loved the opportunity to join Model UN club. I don’t know, I didn’t ask.

So much of my high school life was about protecting myself from hurt or rejection, that I automatically eliminated even acknowledging about 85% of the people I met, and then being really really mean to the remaining 15% to see who’d stick around to be my friend anyway.

It worked for me, my people were MY PEOPLE and we had a shit ton of nerdy fun playing chess, watching Monty Python movies and ditching prom to go see Jurassic Park, but that night I discovered that maybe…with just a little bit more of an open mind, I might have been able to have an entirely different high school experience.

Or, I might have just been leaving myself vulnerable to a face full of pig’s blood.

One or the other.

Tell me your GEEK story in a comment or email to dawnsummers3000 at yahoo.com this Friday, May 6, 2011.

Best tale gets an autographed copy of Geeks will Inherit the Earth! Did I mention it’s in stores now?

This entry was posted in Memoir. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Geeks shall inherit the earth

  1. Stephane says:

    What was I thinking?! That’s a terrible story. Don’t ever talk to the Becky’s in your school’s kids!

  2. VinNay says:

    When I was in high school, I was a total dork and never hung out with the popular kids, mostly sticking to my core group of guys who spent our saturday nights playing poker instead of going out with girls.

    I saved up all my lawn cutting money to buy a fancy telescope, but found myself in an interesting situation. I was at the mall ready to buy my telescope when I spied Cindy Mancini (head cheerleader) having a cash-flow problem trying to replace her mothers wine stained suede jacket. I stepped in and gave her the money in exchange for her pretending to date me.

    Many hijinks ensued, and I instantly became one of the most popular kids at school, especially after our fake breakup in which I dumped her publicly. Needless to say, things went to my head a bit and I ended up ignoring my true friends, and focused on banging hot chicks. When the school eventually found out the truth, I was ostracized by everyone and had to spend new years eve wandering the streets on my own.

    After some reflection, I realized what was really important, and how much pain I had caused those around me, including poor Cindy Mancini. I stuck up for some nerd at lunch and got a standing ovation (slow clap style) from everyone.

    It turned out that Cindy had really fallen for me, and we shared our true feelings and drove off into the sunset on my lawnmower. Man, those were the days. She had great rhododendrons.

    I guess the moral of the story is that no amount of money, good looks, or intelligence is going to make you cool, or buy you love. You have to lie your way into things and hope the girl falls for you anyway. If you can arrange a group slow clap, it really helps move the process along.

    • Pdov says:

      Wow, Vinnay that sounds pretty fantastic experience. You should pitch that to a movie studio – maybe even get a younger Patrick Dempsey to star in it. 😛
      #lovecan’tbuymelove

  3. Jordan says:

    First off, HAHAHAHAHAHA! Vinnay is HYSTERICAL!

    I have a quick story that goes the other way. I was on a Binai Brith trip (Jewish youth organization) to Washington DC with a bunch of my friends. We were probably sophomores or juniors in HS. I was and still am a bit of a nerd or geek or whatever, but in the insulated world of Binai Brith, I was able to ride that line and command a bit more respect by virtue of the fact that everyone was from different schools, and we all had an even playing field.

    On that trip, a bunch of my HS friends joined. I was hitting it off with a girl who I considered out of my league. It was actually going pretty well until she said, “You’re cool and everything, but why do you hang out with such losers.”

    I was shocked. Needless to say, I kinda dropped it with her then and there. After all, as everyone knows, the best way to punish a girl is to deny her my penis. It is legen- wait for it…

    -huge.

  4. chsw says:

    VinNay: Sorry to hear you got the clap in high school.
    Jordan: BS.

    In high school I –
    1. Figured out that building a uranium a-bomb is shockingly simple once you have the material and could be done with the equipment in shop class. Gave a presentation on it in physics class. Got a call from the police that evening.
    2. Got thrown out of a typing class (THAT dates me) with two black girls for “bad behavior.” Because the typing teacher made some inappropriate comments, we were able to get the class removed from our transcripts. I think that they are both doctors now.
    3. Was turned down by a famous politician’s notorious daughter after making out during a keg party. Was probably one of the few guys in high school that she turned down. I understand that she later held a position in the Clinton Administration.

    chsw

  5. pearatty says:

    “So much of my high school life was about protecting myself from hurt or rejection, that I automatically eliminated even acknowledging about 85% of the people I met, and then being really really mean to the remaining 15% to see who’d stick around to be my friend anyway.”

    Yep. That’s me all right.

  6. Pdov says:

    I was definetely a geek/nerd in high school. Actually I think I was a nerd who wanted to be geek, I just wasn’t smart enough to be one. Freshman year was a blur, but sophmore year I met Phil – we laughed at the same jokes, we “got” each others pain & suffering, and we became inseperable. Somehhow getting a best friend made me (and him) more attractive to the other nerds and so slowly but surely Phil and I build our own little group. It was great – we took accelerated classes and for the most part I felt cool enough with my own friends to never feel bad about not being popular. I remember sometimes being teased in school by mean girls, but usually I chalked it up to their low self-esteem.

    When I went back for my 5th year HS reunion I remember going outside to smoke a cigarette (I used to smoke recreationally, usually after drinking) and this guy Pat, who I swear I never talked to in my life, but who was one of the popular kids, had a total meltdown over the fact that I, Petitedov, the model student, geek, whatever he thought I was, was partaking in a delinquent behavior. It was pretty funny. Yes, even nerds smoke, drink, and even partake in illicit drugs from time to time (but just in college). #truestory

  7. Mark says:

    So, when about age 12, my father relented and bought the family a new console TV, you know, the kind that are the dimensions of a mid-size Chevy. It was delivered to the house while I was at school, and upon my return, I found it sitting in the middle of the family room floor, awaiting its final placement. Curious, was I, as to the workings of this device and as such, set about taking it apart. With the majority of its components surrounding me on the carpet, my mother enters and has a shit-fit. “Get that thing back together before your father gets home or your ass is grass and he’ll be the lawnmower!” Fairly certain that she was correct, I began to put this beast back together. Alas, at the end of the project, I had two parts remaining that I had no clue where they belonged. So, thinking logically, I hid them in my sock drawer. Dad got home, placed the set where he wanted it, plugged it in and turned it on. All praise to Odin, it worked. And continued to do so for 25 or so years. Finally, when he recently decided that he could handle another change and upgrade to a flat screen, I told him the story. To this day, we have no clue what the parts were for, or, for that matter, where they ended up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *