I’m on a coffee date, and it’s going OK. She’s laughing at my jokes. I find her stories genuinely interesting. We talk about anything and everything as we try to get to know each other. Things are going well. Eventually the conversation swims towards interests, hobbies, and things we do for fun in our spare time. Reading. Hiking. Traveling. Wine Tasting. A little bit of this. A little bit of that.
But what about the things I really find fun? Do I tell her already? Or do I wait until the second date? Will she understand me? Or judge me? These are the concerns of a single man in his mid 30s, debating on revealing to this woman sitting across from him, that he’s a geek. And not only that, but a geek who has a webcomic.
There is no denying this simple fact; I spend my spare time working on a webcomic. And that’s just the tip of iceberg. I read comic books. I enjoy looking at toys in collectible shops. I have fun at Comic Cons. I love Transformers, and I’m a Trekker for life. But I’m also a single guy in my 30s dating in a large metropolitan city. And when one dates certain things have to be withheld until you are fully comfortable with this complete stranger. Guilty pleasures, embarrassing stories, sexual desires, sport fanaticism, thoughts on children. There are just some things you keep under wraps until the time is right. Admitting to being geek is one of those things.
Geek. It’s a word that has gone from being the label of scorn in the school yard, to one of endearment in the Internet age. People take that term with pride, as more and more closet geeks come out in drones. Hollywood has made comic books cool. Video Games are played by our girlfriends. And the iPhone have made it easy for anyone to crave more gadgets and technology. But despite the widespread growing acceptance of geekdom, there is a still a stigma associate with it. Because while it’s alright to love the new Batman movie trilogy, if you read the comic books then you might be unfairly labeled as a Man-Child!
Those fully grown “men” who are incapable of leaving the toys behind, still read books with pictures, play video games late into the night, and still have a strong fascination with Star Wars. A lot of women have every right to wonder if this person who still enjoys children’s things can be a possible life partner. Can someone who losses it when they see the newest Comic Book movie trailer have the emotional capacity to be there for the other person when the chips are down? Will they be able to be the adult and take control of the situation? Or are they going to be like children and hope their mommies will take care of everything while they catch up on the latest episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
I’ve heard stories from female friends about their boyfriends not manning up. About being more into their Star Wars collections than treating them right. About losing days into a video game, when they should be studying for finals or finding a job. About remembering more about a fictional character than their own birthday. I’ve heard the stories. And it honestly sickens me. Mostly because I used to be one.
Not 5 years ago, I was that dreaded man child. I would spend more money on action figures than on my girlfriend. I would get excited over any piece of news for the upcoming Transformer movie, and not give two shits about my girlfriend’s work issues. In short, I was a shitty boyfriend. And it wasn’t because I was a geek, but it was because I let the geekdom consume me to the point where it became me. I wasn’t known as simply Saeed, I was Saeed the guy with 200 hundred fucking Transformers. I gave off the impression that I was a 14 years old trapped in a mid 20s body. My girlfriend at the time even called me Comic Book Guy.
<sarcasm> Now what woman can resist that. </sarcasm>
The balance was tipped over into geekdom. I made it known that I belonged in a comic store, in appearance and in the way my room was set up. So I decided to ease off a little bit. It took a couple years, and few moves from apartment to apartment (even country to country), but every step of the way I shed a little bit more of the outward geek style appearance. And strangely enough, by changing my environment, my attitude changed a little too. I felt less and less of a need to be up to date on the latest upcoming summer movie. New toys were enjoyed from behind a glass case at a toy store, where they never left. And even my clothes changed a little.
And so there I was, and now here I am. Years have pass. Growth was (and still is being) made. The toys are packed in boxes. The shirts no longer have cartoons on them. I’m reading books on entrepreneurship, science, and even zen. And I still haven’t seen Transformers 3.
I haven’t abandoned my geekdom, I put it in check.
But I still feel like I have to be ashamed of it. And why should I? I have a good paying job. I travel the world. I can pay my rent. I have money saved up. Am I perfect? No. I have other issues I need to work on (who doesn’t). But I’d like to think I’m a good man, who will treat the right girl like the most special girl in the world.
So when I go on dates I should simply be able to state I’m a geek in about a casual just as I would say I’m a visual effects artist? It’s a part of who I am, but it’s not my defining characteristic. So I have to tread lightly making sure they don’t get that unfair picture of me as a man child.
Balance is needed for the geek culture. While it’s fun to run around the Arclight Cinema and ogle the Transformer cars before the movie open, we still need to remember that it is after all just a movie. It’s shouldn’t overrun our lives. We are more than capable to man up, and take charge. We are responsible. And we sure as hell know a solid relationship is more important than a chunk of plastic.
So don’t write us off yet.