Thursday, January 27, 2011

Make Mine Nerdy

I recently came across this quote from John Green:

"Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff.... Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like, jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can't-control-yourself love it. When people call people nerds, mostly what they're saying is, 'You like stuff.' Which is just not a good insult at all, like, 'You are just too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness.'"

And that reminded me of the story of my Favorite Sweatshirt Ever.

You see, on the first day of the eighth grade I was super excited because I was finally going to get to wear my new Favorite Sweatshirt Ever!! (hereafter referred to as "the FSE").

My sister had spent the summer in France on an exchange program and she'd brought the FSE back for me as a gift. It was light blue, and right in the center of it was this big picture of Snoopy wearing a beret (and, as I remember, smoking a cigarette, but now I'm thinking that can't possibly be right). Underneath the picture was the phrase, "It's Not Easy Being This Cool". In French.

My sister had given me the FSE at the end of July, but I resisted the temptation to wear it all summer. Instead, I kept it safe on a high shelf so that it would be in flawless condition for its debut on the first day of school.

When September finally arrived, I pulled the FSE down from its hiding place. Was I actually leaping back and forth from one foot to the other in excitement while clapping my hands giddily?

I won't say no.

I fluffed my hair into two perfectly Aqua-netted feathers, carefully attached two ribbon-covered barrettes, pulled the FSE on over my spankin' new Golddigger jeans, and headed off to day number one of the eighth grade!

...only to learn in dramatic fashion upon arrival at First Period that exactly zero percent of my fellow students shared my delight in the FSE.

Instead, my peers exhibited what can only be described as blatant hostility towards the FSE. They made this clear as they taunted me throughout the day with cries of

"Snoopy? Seriously, what are you five?"

"Who wears that? You freak!"

...and the simple, yet to the point...

"Nice sweatshirt, loser."

The taunts continued until lunchtime, when in desperation I changed into the t-shirt I'd brought for gym, snuck out behind the cafeteria, and hurriedly threw the FSE into an out-of-the-way trash bin.

Looking back, I wish I'd had the inherent sense of self to instead hold my head up high and strut through the hallways secure in the knowledge that the FSE was in fact, AWESOME, misunderstood though it may have been in its own time.

But I didn't. Because I was twelve, and I was a nerd, and I really didn't want to be a nerd. And so I allowed the tidal wave of scorn coming from my eighth grade peers to destroy the love that I'd been nurturing for the FSE throughout those long summer months.

Which brings me to the Snood, who at the age of two is pretty much the KING of non-ironic enthusiasm.

(The Snood - age 14 months)

The list of things he currently loves with the white-hot intensity I once felt for the FSE includes, but is not limited to


























....and the list grows daily.

Snoodie celebrates each encounter with one of these beloved items by jumping up and down, clicking his fingers above his head as if playing imaginary castanets, and yelling the name of said item (let's say "CHOCOLATE MIIIIILK!!!") at the top of his lungs.

And it is awesome.

Well, except maybe at Sunday mass when he occasionally drowns out all the reverent praying by screaming, "I LIKE SOUP!" repeatedly. That can get a little awkward.

But for the most part I can't get enough of Snoodie's excitement. It's kind of like having Double Rainbow Guy for a housemate, and it makes taking life too seriously on any level nearly impossible.

But it also worries me. Because I know from personal experience that life is not always easy on the non-ironic enthusiast.

I think of how much I want Snoodie to maintain his joy in all the things he adores, and all the awesome things he has yet to discover, even though I know that his love may take him down some rough roads.

Because there will surely be days when people are going to tell Snoodie that the things he loves so much are dumb, and that he's dumb for loving them. There will probably even be days where he throws away something he loves because of how those people make him feel.

But I really hope I can help him find a way to keep on living life full of his own wacky brand of Snoodish glee --- to cherish the things he delights in no matter what other people tell him, and to maybe even rock his very own FSE someday on the first day of school, come what may.

I guess what I'm saying is that I hope Snoodie can grow up to be a nerd.

It shouldn't be that hard. As my Grandma Conroy might say - the kid comes by it honestly.