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Help! I’m Married to a Geek

December 18, 2009 Humor No Comments

I married a geek before geeks were cool. Now suddenly they are hot stuff. I don’t know when exactly the tide turned. Was it the underdog appeal of Napoleon Dynamite, achieving the impossible in The 40 Year Old Virgin, or the childlike appeal of Will Farrell?

The tide has turned into a tidal wave. Geek is hot. And I am married to one. Woo-hoo!

If you are like me, you are thinking the time is ripe to embrace your inner geekness. And yes, girls can be geeks too. Don’t believe me? I have two words for you: Ugly Betty.

So what exactly is a geek? In high school, I would have said a geek is socially a step behind, an outsider who didn’t keep up with the crowd. Now I wonder if geeks weren’t actually a step ahead, not bothering to follow the crowd because it simply held no allure.

The most obvious trait of geekhood is a ferociously passionate interest in something. Whether it’s computers, vintage pac-man games, obscure poetry, or baseball stats, geeks dive in and don’t surface—often for a lifetime. I knew one woman who devoted her entire life to the study of one of Shakespeare’s comedies. Not all of them. Just one. She was an “As You Like It” geek. Presumably, she still is.

My husband, on the other hand, is a car geek. And since geeks are by nature specialists, that means that while my husband enjoys car races, he’s not a Nascar or a Formula 1 geek. He just loves the cars themselves. He subscribes to at least six car magazines. When he dreams, he can’t remember who showed up or what they did but he can tell you what car they were driving. For him, there’s no better fun that driving interesting cars, talking about cars, reading about cars, and best of all—contemplating the next car in the garage.

Another geek quality is a lack of interest in keeping up with the neighbors. Geeks aren’t trendy. Not only do they not care about Paris Hilton; they care even less what bag she is carrying. If the geek in question is wearing a really cool vintage Pink Floyd T-shirt from “The Wall” tour, it is because he has owned it for several decades and it is still in the rotation. So they don’t have a BMW in the driveway to impress you. If they have one, they are a car geek. Then, they may have four.

When I was going to college, I worked at Sav-On in Laguna Beach. Several years ago, an older man would regularly come in to shop. He would buy 3/$1.00 toothbrushes and drive home in his beat-up station wagon that probably hadn’t seen a wax job since 1975. I would not even remember him except for one thing. He was my boss, Sam Skaggs, the founder of retail conglomerate American Stores. You sure wouldn’t know it from the items in his basket. He wasn’t purchasing champagne and tooling down PCH in a Ferrari. Instead he was busy buying salmon on sale and donating $100 million dollars to the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego. Clearly, Sam definitely qualified as a geek.

Howie Makler, owner of Howie’s Game Shack in Mission Viejo hangs out with gaming geeks all day and long into the night. What he found is that geeks have gone mainstream. “Being a geek is no longer considered geeky,” said Makler. “I’ve got jocks that are geeks.” Makler also notes that video gaming geeks are not nerds with useless, overdeveloped skills but rather consummate problem solvers. “I’d go out of my way to hire gamers because they have the skill sets that I, as an employer, want. Gamers are less frustrated because they know there are a hundred ways to complete a task.” Translated: geeks don’t give up.

The stereotype of the geek living in his parent’s garage is really a myth. Geeks are generally highly skilled and successful in their fields.

Even though my husband was wearing a mom-knitted sweater when I met him, he was driving a vintage Corvette with a 454 engine. I eventually got rid of the sweater and most of the dweeb wardrobe. He sold the car for triple what he paid for it. Sure we have 35 years of Road amp; Track magazines out in the garage, but it’s a small price to pay to keep my geek happy.

Who knows? Maybe our kids will turn out to be geeks.


Jody Payne,

Mom Living Out Loud Who LOVES the Geeks in her life!

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