"Let's face the obvious. Yesterday we were nerds.
Today we're the cognitive elite.
Let's conquer."
-Chester G. Edwards

I am a geek.

We are the people who built your roads, your bridges, your international telecommunications systems, and the space shuttle. We're the dreary people who make sure the books are audited, the records are kept and the entries are in order. We are not the Marlboro Man.

We are not cool.

We are the people you laughed at in high school. The jocks, and the wannabe jocks: everybody who was more concerned with social standing than loyalty. (By and large, geeks are very loyal people.) I am your neighborhood geek.

I am not a genius. Yes, I can write a device driver in assembler, and I even know how to find and copy a file without using the Microsoft Windows Explorer. So does the thirteen-year-old down the street. She's not a genius, either. We're both just geeks, and if she works hard, she might even be a good one. It is something to strive for. It is something to be proud of.

I like to see numbers that add up and I like Norman Rockwell paintings and yes, I did wear a pocket protector when I was young and, yes, I did think they were cool. I had a slide rule, too- I was often faster on some operations than many people still are with a calculator. I built electronic devices, and not all of them were from kits. I didn't play baseball, basketball or football.

I have no use for anybody who judges my social worth by the thickness of my corrective lenses, whether they are a jock or not.

I trust machines more than people; I find them easier to get along with, and safer. When they really piss you off, you can unplug them- and it's legal.

I don't visit psychiatrists. I have no use for psychologists and no patience with self-help books and feel-good workshops and retreats and seminars and new-age gurus and shamans and healers and experts in every kind of thing that can neither be measured nor proved or disproved. I have tried a lot of these things. In the end, I believe in science and I trust myself.

I don't insist that this work for you. I keep my religious beliefs to myself. I won't push my philosophy or my religion at you and I will not allow you to do so to me.

By happy circumstance, computers became popular in my lifetime, and so us geeks and nerds and social freaks and outcasts and number junkies have become popular. For a while. For a brief respite of the social scorn it's okay to be a geek. Because we're making money, and in the good ole' US of A money is always cool, no matter how you get it.

But those of us who were in the AV club and read Popular Mechanics and helped our classmates (who would not publicly admit this) with their homework have not forgotten. We remember what it's like to have gained a new best friend the night before The Big Test and a new enemy -- that is, the same person -- as soon as the test was over.

Many days have passed since then. Many days, and many more days after that. My hair is thinner, my daughter is in college, and my son is halfway through high school.

I live well. I buy myself toys. I have fun. I have a certain amount of serenity, and a good bunch of geek-friends who understand me: we talk the same language. I have no desire to fight with anybody. But I won't be going back for any high school reunions, either. If you played sports, I sincerely wish you the absolute best: I hope you are doing even half as well as I am.

-Your Friendly Neighborhood Geek

P.S. My dictionary1 defines a 'geek' as: "A carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake." Comparisons, lessons or insights are left as an exercise for the reader.

1Webster's New Collegiate