Geek Heroes


I was thinking that my last couple of postings have been awfully somber. So today, something a bit lighter in tone and spirit. Lighter and springier, even.

I am a sucker for a hero walk.

walking the walk

You know, what film-makers call it when several of the main characters in an action movie walk abreast (actually swagger abreast) in slow motion to a pounding anthem-rock song. Think Armageddon or Pirates of the Caribbean or Big Band Theory.Yes, BBT (see season 3 episode “The Pirate Solution”). 

Geek swagger absolutely slays me.

I love geeks. Some of my favorite people are full-on geeks (you know who you are). What makes someone a geek? And is this one of those “Senator, I know it when I see it” kind of questions? Maybe one person’s geek is another person’s nerd. Maybe defining the idea of “geek” reaffirms the essential dodgeballness of geeks—for their own safety, they’re required to be moving targets.

Here’s what I look for:

  • Piercing intelligence tinged with progressive cynicism
  • Genre allegiance
  • Technological adeptness
  • Glasses

Screens are a crucial accessory. We are raising a generation of kids who love screen-time with pure monogamous devotion. Even reading science fiction novels can be accomplished via a screen now. No need for geeks even to venture outside to a library.

Sam’s college search has us racking up some pretty significant screen time, looking at a lot of websites. If you’ve never poked around on the Princeton Review’s website (, you’ve missed some pretty hilarious reading. They have lots of helpful search lists and rankings of colleges and universities vamped up with some amusing headings:

  • Dorms like palaces v. Dorms like dungeons
  • Reefer madness v. Don’t inhale
  • Birkenstock-wearing, tree-hugging, clove-smoking vegetarians v. Future Rotarians and Daughters of the American Revolution

[You can bet that last category is our favorite and actually incredibly helpful in directing you toward schools with a liberal leaning—a non-negotiable point for Sam.]

I would say that our Self Contained Unit has some definite geek qualities. He’s got the first three on my above checklist nailed. Myopia may unfortunately come later, certainly likely will come with enough screen time.

But one way he differs from geekdom in general is his passion for being outdoors. He was the kid building forts near the creek, tromping through the neighbors’ yards on “quests” and always lobbying for the nature-oriented family vacations featuring plenty of creeks and rocks and quests.

It reminds me of a piece I heard on NPR one time (sorry Syd). The contributor, waxing nostalgic of course, listed his three requirements for a healthy childhood: a bike, a library card and piano lessons. And the bike, not the mom-taxi, was the transportation to the other two activities. I think we’re pretty far away from this idyllic past. Quel domage. What a shame.

How will Sam do in college with the full-on geeks and precious little time for outdoor quests? My guess is that my iconoclast will manage his own version of going geek at college quite nimbly.

Cue the hero walk music. Which he will write.


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