September 2, 2015

N is for Nerd


Photography by Mary Allison Tierney

Falling in love was always easy for me. It started at age 6. Maybe I was younger than most when it happened, but when I fell, it was head over heels, bright as the sun kind of love.

Not talking boys but sci-fi and fantasy. Star Trek, Doctor Who, Star Wars, The Hobbit, Chronicles of Narnia, Battlestar Galactica, Lord of The Rings, Blade Runner, Indiana Jones, Twin Peaks, The X-Files, Harry Potter, Firefly, Buffy, Lost, Game of Thrones, Fringe, Supernatural and Marvel superheroes. Within 15 minutes of cracking these books or watching these shows and movies, I fell hopelessly, enthusiastically, obsessively in love.

Yes, I know there is a name for people like me – nerd. The first day I heard that word is inscribed in my memory. My eighth-grade English teacher suggested that I read “The Hobbit” for fun. I was bored and done with our reading list, so she pulled the book out from her personal stash. After reading those first JRR Tolkien lines about hobbit holes, I was hooked and two hours later in study hall, I still hadn’t put the book down. When a boy seated next to me asked what I was reading, I shared how it was the most amazing book. He snorted loudly in front of the other kids, “So you don’t have to read it for class? God, you’re such a nerd.” Newfound love turned to deep embarrassment and from that point on, I felt the need to hide my book covers to avoid any future comments.

I would give anything to go back in time and talk to 13-year-old me. I would look her in the eye, give her a hug and say, “ Who cares what other people like or what they think? Love what you love and be proud of it.”

Today, when someone is brave enough to talk to me about these books or shows, I don’t hide my enthusiasm and happily expound on myth arcs, symbolic imagery or complex character progression. Come over to my house and I will pour you a glass of wine, queue a Game of Thrones episode and discuss why Tyrion Lannister should rule Westeros. Maybe over a cup of coffee we can argue who is the best example of the “Deadpan Snarker” trope – Han Solo, Mal Reynolds or Dean Winchester. Any one up for a nine-hour LOTR marathon? Samwise and Frodo make me cry every time.

You don’t like these things or think I’m a nerd? That’s ok because I love, love, love them and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Paula Chapman’s essay The Heritage Doll appears in Mamas Write.


  1. Sue LeBreton says:

    I embrace my nerdiness. I love how now it’s more trendy to be smart and nerdy. I heard my sone referring to himself as a nerd and a geek- but he was bragging. I am excited to start Supernatural- I want to watch it with my teens.

    • Paula Chapman says:

      Sue – God bless Netflix and the Winchester brothers! I laughed, I cried, I cringed at blood splatter. Great ride.

  2. Claire Hennessy says:

    Isn’t wonderful that Nerds are cool! Love that you included Doctor Who in your list and Game of Thrones … fab!

  3. I love your piece!! I think I missed out when I was a kid since I only read realistic fiction (but I was an avid reader, too) and wish I had expanded my horizons a little. You were the kid I always admired while I only read my Nancy Drew and my Judy Blume. My best friend was like you — reading cool stuff like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Phantom Tollbooth and Piers Anthony while I stuck to the safe stuff that I knew. Beautifully written blog!!

    • Paula Chapman says:

      Thanks Maria! Funny how my best friend at that time was much more like you, maybe it is two halves of a whole?

  4. I snorted with laughter when I saw Twin Peaks! I used to watch that show. I also watched Psych and they did an episode dedicated to it – awesome!! Nerd Unite!

    AJ’s wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge

  5. Terrific, Paula. What good advice to not care what others think and stick with what you love.

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