i’m not proud

confessions and pathetic whining

I had a new experience two days ago.

I have not written about it before because I don’t really understand it, and I am a bit ashamed.  Mortified, really.  Okay, I’ll just fess up.  Here goes:

I came home from rehearsal the other day and Eric’s things were lying in the chair I wanted to sit on.  As I picked them up I noticed that he had a copy of The Daily Texan, UT’s school newspaper, sitting on top of his things.  Now, if I haven’t mentioned before, the way that Eric and I became friends was due to The Daily Texan.  During rehearsals he would do the crossword puzzle and one day I sat next to him and started helping him.  That’s how we started talking.  We impressed each other with what we knew.

After that he’d start saving the crossword puzzles for when I got to rehearsal, and we’d sit together and solve them.  We did that the entire run of the show.

“I bet you did this crossword without me,” I had said as I picked up the paper the other day.

“No.”

“Ohh!  You really didn’t!  You do love me.”  I made a little mock-sniff and opened the paper to see what new (read: bad) comics were in this year’s Texan.  That’s when it happened.  I don’t know how.  I don’t know exactly why.  It just did.  I couldn’t control it and it was happening before I knew what was going on:

I laughed at a Dilbert comic.

That’s never happened in my entire life!  You have to understand that I never, never, EVER laugh at Dilbert.  I don’t get them.  I don’t understand the humor.  I really don’t.  I would walk by people’s offices and read the Dilbert slips and be like, “I don’t get it.”

So here I am guffawing like an idiot when Eric says, “What is it?”

I realize that this must be a fluke Dilbert.  “Well, you’re not going to believe this, but Dilbert is actually funny today.”

“Really?  I thought there was a panel missing or something.”  He moved over towards where I was.

My stomach had a sinking feeling.  He thought there was a panel missing?  That’s what I usually think when I read Dilbert.  I normally read it a couple of times trying to understand what’s going on.  This time, however, I was just chuckling away, thinking they had finally thought of something funny to write about.

“No, it’s all here,” I said, my voice shaking a little.

“Read it to me.”

“Okay.”

[scripty]
PAMIE
See, here in the first panel, this woman goes to the doctor.  Heeee.  Heee-heee.  He’s saying, “What seems to be the problem?”

ERIC
Uh-huh.

PAMIE
And-hhaaaa heeh heee… and she goes, “Well, for some reason every day I feel this horrible feeling in my stomach and I just want to kill every single person I see.”  Hmm-hah-hah.

ERIC
Right.

PAMIE
And the doctor goes– haa-hee-hheee- the doctor goes– haaa-hh the doctor goes, “Sounds like you have a case of crapius jobius!  Haa!   HA HA HEEE HOOOOO!  CRAPIUS JOBIUS!  WAAAhhhsssstssstst tss tss fmwaaaa.

ERIC
(blink!  blink!)

PAMIE
Fuh-nee.

ERIC
What does it say then?

PAMIE
That’s it.

ERIC
Oh.

PAMIE
Crapius.   Heeeee.

ERIC
Does that happen to you?

PAMIE
Where you want to kill everyone?

ERIC
Yeah.

PAMIE
Yeah.

ERIC
Oh.

PAMIE
Not in like a “I have a gun” sort of way.  Just like, you know, like you don’t want anyone to talk to you at all.  Sometimes the phone just keeps ringing at your desk and then someone is all on the phone chomping on gum in your ear and you can’t say anything because you know, you’re at work and all but you really just want to be like, “CAN YOU CHEW ANY LOUDER, YOU FREAK?” But you have to play it all cool because you’re at work you know?  And then there’s the times when you have to just keep asking the same questions over and over and you feel like you wish you could just take off your mouth and put it by the phone and let it do all of the work for you because your brain is slowly killing itself every time you ask “What operating system are you using?” and you feel like your soul is sort of melting away and you are just a shell of the person you used to be…

ERIC
I’m gonna go work on my car.
[/scripty]

And then it hit me.  I got the office humor.  Oh, man.  I used to be able to trick myself into thinking I was a cool geek grrl.  You know?  Like the girls at chickclick or molly or carly or whatever.  I felt like a grrl.  Now I felt like a geeeeeek.  Just a big taped-glasses wearing freakazoid.

Could this really be happening?  For all of my hip pop-culture knowledge and my platform shoes and my hair thingies and Fatboy Slim albums and my punk rock sensibilities I can never really escape the fact that I’m just a big geek at heart?

I used to think being a geek was cool, though.  Being a geek grrl, mind you.  I thought that I had escaped the geek dork I was when I was a kid and I loved playing on my Vic 20 programming in BASIC so that my screen would fill up with “Pam Is Cool and Her Sister Smells.”  GOTO 10, baby.

But I thought I had escaped all of that and became more of a smart, cool kind of computer girl.  I knew my shit, but I still kept a level head about it.  I wasn’t like a cube freak or anything.  I don’t have Dilbert cartoons on my desk, I have Far Side cartoons.  I’ve got Winnie the Pooh stickers.  I have a “Glitzy” sticker sent by Carly.  I have a Breeders postcard and a Jane’s Addiction poster up for God’s sake!  I can’t be laughing at Dilbert.  I can’t.

So this morning I thought, “Well, maybe it was just a one time thing.  It was just a fluke.  Let’s go over to the Dilbert Zone and see if we find today’s comic funny.”

We will ignore the fact that I knew that you get Dilbert comics at dilbertzone.com….

Let’s take a look at today’s comic:

First panel:  Dogbert’s Tech Support.

Dogbert is on the phone and the customer says, “Hello, I–” and Dogbert says, “Shut up and reboot.”

Second panel:  The customer says, “Hey, it work..” and Dogbert says, “Shut up and hang up.”

Then the last panel:  Dogbert thinks to himself, “My average call time is improving.”

And I laughed. I hang my head in shame at the fact that I know what an “average call time” is and I know how it’s supposed to be improving.  Oh, the shame.  The shame.  I feel terrible about it.

I AM A BIG DORK GEEK AND I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER IT!

I can play all of the Pixies that I want here at my desk.  I can wish I had more Sonic Youth albums, but the truth is I love the sound my mail program makes when I get another e-mail.  I love watching shockwave programs.  I want to be asked to speak at web conferences.

It’s disgusting.  Yesterday I call my co-workers vampires and today I realize that I’m just a good foozball game away from being a complete and total tech geek head.  I can try and fight it with pigtails and Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers but the truth is very painful.  The only reason that I’m not considered a huge geek right now is because I have boobs.

I even made a geek joke that Eric took and used at his tech job and it KILLED!  KILLED!   It wouldn’t fly around here because my hallway doesn’t have enough geeks in it, but I tell you it could kill on the third floor.  Check it, it’s like this:  You know the comic book shop owner on The Simpsons?  The one with the goatee and ponytail?  Well, you say in his voice, “Is your house made of adobe?  Because that’s a really nice photo.”

Very funny to the geek kids.  Not so funny to those who actually have LIVES and leave the house and don’t identify themselves with the geek comic book shop owner.

Okay, and I’ve even played Magic, The Gathering.  Huh?  What do you think about that?  Since we’re just laying all the cards on the table let’s fucking do it, right?  I played Magic.  I’ve said the word “manna” many fucking times.  I even bought little gems to use in the game, okay?  I’ve beaten Doom.  I’ve beaten Myst.  I long for digital cameras and I think the new ibooks look pretty cool and would look even better with a Batz Maru sticker on the front.

I even dated several geeks.  Together we made geek love.  Eric is the first person I’ve dated that didn’t know his way around a gaming system or partitioning a hard drive.  He used to laugh at my geekness.  Now he has a geek job and he’s wearing the geek shirts.  Together we have a geeky closet filled with little slogans and corporate logos.  One time before his geekness I told him what a firewall is.  Now he wears a shirt that says, “Leading the Firewire Revolution.”

Oh, forget it.  I’m making myself sick.

So there it all is, right in front of you.  You can’t just escape geekhood.  It follows you.  You can try and bury it deep inside you, but you weaken.  Eventually you weaken. You try and walk by an Office Depot.  You have every intention of walking right by and going into Old Navy and purchasing whatever it is that Old Navy tells you you’re supposed to be wearing that season.  You have every intention of being a good grrl.  But the next thing you know you’ve been sucked into that Office Depot or Best Buy and you’re running up and down the aisles like fucking Little Orphan Annie singing at the top of your lungs, “I think I’m gon-na like it here!”  And you get all warm and flushed at the smell of plastic wrap and the little peely-colorform type things that come on new monitors and stereos and televisions and you buy reams of paper because the weight of it feels good in your hands and you buy all sorts of pens and pencils (pencils you never end up using but you have just in case, because pencils make you feel secure) and you buy folders and tabbed organizers and white-out and post it notes and calculators and printer ink cartridges and a new mouse pad because yours is all gunky and this one has a picture of the Beatles or something and you just never look back.  You bring home all of your new office supplies and organize them on your desk and dust the top of your scanner and sit back and fill yourself with the satisfaction of being a geek and no one but the other geeks saw you geek out at the store.

It’s a sad, shameful life being a geek.  I thought I could hide it.  Dilbert is making me realize that maybe I can’t.

Leave a Reply