November 28, 2008

A Card Carrying Member

My sisters and I are going out dancing next weekend. It's an unspoken rule that whenever my oldest sister is in town, we have to go out dancing. As my younger sister and I were discussing this she said to me, "I want you to let loose while we're out. Just go wild and have fun." I found this amusing. You see, I always do let loose and have a great time. I don't drink and so I'm the designated driver. And there isn't anything I say or do that I would be embarrassed for anyone else to know about. But it hammered home a truth that has divided me and my sisters since the day I was born.

I am a nerd. (If you grew up with me at all, this is not a revelation.) But I'm not the techie, computer geek type that now seems to be the "cool" kind of nerd. I am a nerd in the purest, most picked on sense of the word. I was always the teacher's pet growing up. I got straight A's up through high school and graduated with honors. I was never fashionable and always seemed to have a bad perm.

I always asked for extra work and was the first to sign up for summer reading programs. I love to read. I can't tell you how many times my sisters came into my room while I was reading, begging me to do "something fun". Hello?! Can't you see I'm having fun already?

You know those people that you went to school with that always seemed older and put together and just plain cool? I was the opposite of that. I never even seemed my own age, much less older. Not a year went by that I was not teased, picked on, ridiculed endlessly.

I was always the goody-two shoes of the family. I was the tattle-tell, the party pooper. Both my sisters had problems in school and seemed to get in trouble. I could never understand why anyone would want to do something that would make their parents upset with them. This is not to say that I never did anything bad. I've had my moments of rebellion and stupidity. And there were plenty of times that I would try anything to fit in with my sisters or people at school. It never worked.

It's not just reading that I enjoy. I could pass away hours happily organizing something, anything. It's makes me happy to see something in its place. (Just don't ask me to clean said place.) Last year my husband finally bought me a gift I've been asking for for years. He bought me a label maker. He's so good to me. He's in construction and sometimes he'll bring home catalogs of organizing units and pieces for your kitchen. That's hours of entertainment right there. I drool over the pages in my scrapbook magazine of perfectly organized craft rooms and scrapbook corners. I love to look at the closet organizers at Home Depot. A fun evening out for me would be to walk around the Container Store. (At least I'm a cheap date!)

I also have a thing for spelling. If I see something misspelled, it stands out like a flashing neon light and I can't get past it. If it's something coming from a friend or something personal, it's not such a big deal. But if it's on something professional? Oh, that irritates me to no end. Don't they pay someone to check these things? Can they not hit the spellcheck button? How are you supposed to appear professional if you can't even spell it?

I don't drink, smoke or cuss. I've tried all at one time or another and enjoyed none. Mixed drinks always taste better without the alcohol. I love the smell of wine, but it smells better than it tastes. Cigarettes are just NASTY! Cussing stuck around longer than anything else but even that didn't last. It just doesn't seem to fit. And this one always amuses me because I think there is a blue streak in my genes. The women in my family can swear in a way that would make a sailor blush. I do have to admit that I did have one favorite word that I used all the time. I always said "crap". Which, when you think about it, is still a gross word. But I always figured it was nothing compared to what you might be hearing everywhere else. Until I had kids. Once I had kids, I started thinking about these words coming out of the mouths of my little children. Suddenly, it sounded a whole lot worse to me. I had to train myself not to say it. First, I had to stop saying it. Then, I had to stop thinking it. And then I had to come up with something else that would be appropriate. I came up with the most ridiculous thing I could think of and started using it instead. My "go-to" word has now become "heavens to Betsy." I'm not sure exactly how but it works. It's hard to stay upset about anything after saying that.

I didn't enjoy the same things that my sisters did growing up and so I've always been the big nerd, the snob. Imagine the excitement for my sisters when their stuffy, prudish sister started going to church. That was the best thing that ever happened to me. It wasn't until my junior and senior year in high school, when I mostly hung around with kids in the youth group, that I started to accept (and dare I say embrace) my nerdiness. Did I still want to fit in? Absolutely. But I became a lot more comfortable with being an outsider. And I don't care who knows it. I'll be the first person to volunteer to do something completely humiliating...and have a great time doing it. I have been teased and picked on since preschool. I figure people are going to think whatever they want to about me. I might as well enjoy myself.

So this is me. A full-fledged, card-carrying member of the Nerd Herd. Label maker in one hand, a good book in the other, calling out to other geeks-in-hiding. Embrace your nerdiness! (Just leave out the pocket protectors.)

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