I’m not really a geek. At least, I didn’t grow up as a geek. The geekiest I got was watching Dark Angel and writing fan fiction about it, but I mostly did that because the actors were hot. The only games I played were Need for Speed Underground and Monopoly, with the occasional game of Life thrown in for good measure. The only Star Wars movie I watched was Episode One, and given my new found knowledge of Star Wars, I think I would actually lose points from my geekiness for watching it. By the time I got to university I started dabbling in some geek things. I binge watched Firefly, but my geek powers were still very weak. If you asked me what the Tardis was I would have shrugged and told you perhaps it is a French dessert. I started watching comic book movies that came to theatres, but that didn’t help much either. When I heard people talk about D&D I just assumed they were conversing about Canada’s Department of National Defence. I was basically a lost cause as far as becoming a geek goes. And then I fell in love with one.
My boyfriend reads comic books. He watches Sci-Fi shows and movies, he plays board games, RPGs (which I recently learned means role playing games) and video games. He listens to podcasts and watches YouTube videos about games. He talks a lot about Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day. My boyfriend is your quintessential geek.
Very early in our relationship we had scheduled a date night. I put on a dress and some cute shoes and kept checking my reflection in the mirror as I waited for him to pick me up. I didn’t know where we were going so I wanted to look my best just in case. He picked me up wearing his X-Men t-shirt and we ended up in the parking lot of our local comic book store. Not what I was expecting, but I embraced it and walked up the stairs behind him. When I turned the corner at the top of the stairs I was met with cardboard cut-outs of Penny and Leonard from Big Bang Theory. How fitting, I thought. That’s practically us – if Penny had a Masters degree in Religion and Public Policy. So we browsed for awhile before deciding on Carcassonne. We paid for the board game and went home to play it for the evening, marking the first moment in my big transformation. Okay ‘transformation’ may be a little dramatic, it was basically just the moment I started to realize that games were fun and I was probably the only person not playing them.
When you love another person, as absolutely cheesy as this sounds, it doesn’t matter in the slightest what they are interested in. If my boyfriend liked needlepoint and 5am hikes, by god I would google what needlepoint is, do it until my hands hurt, and then I would drag my ass out of bed at 5am to walk up a giant hill. I wanted to learn more about the things he was passionate about so that, if I was lucky, I could become passionate about them too. It’s nice to be able to share those things. So I started watching Game of Thrones and Battlestar Galactica with him and I became addicted. I went back to the comic book store with him and bought a few more board games and became addicted to those as well. Our collection now consists of Star Trek Catan, Carcassonne, Zombie Dice, Smash Up, Ticket to Ride and a few other cooperative games that I don’t care for (I prefer the games where I can kick his ass).
The next phase of my ‘transformation’ took place in Montreal in September 2014. My boyfriend took me to Montreal Comic Con with him for my birthday. I hadn’t finished watching Battlestar Galactica and I had never seen Cosplay before, so I was mostly just excited to be in the same room as celebrities. The moment we walked into the convention center I looked up at a big sign that read “Weapons Check” and I became weary of Cosplay. “THEY HAVE REAL WEAPONS?” I asked my boyfriend, suddenly terrified to be in the same building as several thousand masked people. He reassured me that it was not a place to check your AK47s at the door, that it was a place to ensure that all of the weapons were fake. I breathed a sigh of relief and waded through the sea of Daenerys Targaryens, Sailor Moons, Predators and Men in Bow Ties (I later learned they were the eleventh Doctor). The costumes were really cool, the actors were really nice, and the energy was electric. Everyone was having a blast. I had my picture taken in THE Deloreon, I watched The Evil Dead with the cast of The Evil Dead, and Khal-Fucking-Drogo told me he really liked my purple pants. I also managed to get through the entire Battlestar Galactica Reunion Q&A with having just one plot point spoiled for me (Michael Hogan later apologized in person for the spoiling one of the final five for me). I was really beginning to see why people were so into this kind of thing.
Next came Doctor Who. My boyfriend told me that I couldn’t even begin to attempt to share his hobbies and passions with him until I understood all of the Doctor Who references that were thrown at me throughout the run of a day. So I sat down and I was introduced to Christopher Eccleston and Rose Tyler. And then I had to say goodbye to Christopher Eccleston and I had a little bit of a hissy fit and told my boyfriend that I could never continue watching the show because he was the Doctor. I’m glad I gave in and met David Tennant, though, because I fell in love with him and with all things Doctor Who and I mostly forgot who Christopher Eccleston was by the end of Tenant’s first episode. He had me at his Lion King reference. And then I had to say goodbye to Tenant and I wept like a little baby and asked why the world had to be so cruel. But then came Matt Smith and Amelia Pond. God I love them together and my obsession with Doctor Who grew. I even signed up for a Pinterest account so I could find examples of how to subtly places Doctor Who decorations in my house. My doctor will always be the tenth, though.
By this point I was doing a decent job fitting in with my boyfriend’s friends and I started to laugh at more pop culture references that would have gone over my head just six months earlier, but there was still a big part of my boyfriend’s life that I didn’t really understand. Once a week my boyfriend would kiss me goodbye and head out to play Pathfinder with his friends. Up until this point I thought that Pathfinder was just someone mispronouncing Pathfinders, the later version of Girl Guides where teenage girls learn how to braid and roast s’mores over a bonfire while singing Koombaya. Therefore, I found it very confusing that my boyfriend was participating in this. I wondered if he wore one of those green vests with badges for tying different knots? One evening, with the permission of the Game Master, I tagged along to learn more about it. It was fairly confusing at first, what with all of the acronyms, different shaped dice and the fact that I was suddenly an Elven ranger. But it was really fun, kind of like a combination of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, with lots of Arrested Development references thrown in to spice things up. I really enjoyed it and became a regular member of the Pathfinder group, creating my own vengeance witch named Deliah West. I think I laugh more at Pathfinder than I do the rest of the week combined. Growing up I always thought of Dungeons and Dragons as being kind of weird, because I didn’t know any better, but now I know that’s it’s really cool.
I’m sure some people wonder if I’m just pretending to like these things because my boyfriend likes them. Yes, this foray into geekery all started as a way for me to build a deeper connection with him, but I had all intentions to dine and dash if I didn’t enjoy the activities I was taste testing. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized I really liked these new pass times. I don’t love all of it, though. There are some hobbies that my boyfriend enjoys that I could never really wrap my head around. I still don’t play video games with him because I’m too busy watching The Mindy Project and I think it would hurt my thumbs. I still don’t read comic books because I am confused about the order in which you have to read the speech bubbles. I’m still always ready to leave the comic book store before he is, and I still sulk when I think he is paying more attention to Final Fantasy than he is to me. I still have a ways to go, and that’s okay. In just one short year in this relationship I have learned so much about this subculture that had always seemed so foreign to me. For years I wondered what geek culture was, and how you become a part of it, when all along the answer has been so simple. Geek culture is just a culture embracing imagination and the willingness to have unabashed fun. You can’t really declare things to be geeky the way I have my whole life, because it isn’t something to be measured like that. My boyfriend is so much more than just a “geek,” he is someone who knows what he likes and isn’t ashamed to enjoy it. He is someone who believes it is important to have fun as an adult. And I totally get it. Now I completely understand why everyone was “geeking” out without me.