Since I’m on a roll about all things nerd, I’m going to go back to the t-shirt collection. My Sci-Fi t-shirts are not only great for laundry day, but they also serve as my press pass into the not-so-hidden-don’t-you-wish-it-were geek underbelly. Once I know I’m going to hit one of those spots, I whip out the t-shirt, push open their doors and people nod in acknowledgement. My t-shirts act like a bar code – geeks scan it and make sub-conscious mental notes about what category of nerd I fall into.
This is great because people trying to hock Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokemon trading cards won’t mistakenly think I’m some kid’s mom and try to approach me. It’s bad in that I sometimes get the wrong attention. The wrong attention being that people feel they need to talk to me. Now this can potentially happen despite the shirts because I’m female. Most of these guys couldn’t expect their own sisters to hang out with them and certainly have never been on a date that wasn’t arranged by their parents. So, a female in a comic book store sets off all sorts of alarms. Fortunately, these misfits keep their heads low while giggling to themselves, “girls”. The braver of the bunch will occasionally work up the courage to approach.
I once spent 30-45 minutes talking to a guy I like to refer to as Colostomy Bag Ron. Don’t ask. Ron regaled me with stories of his mighty character in some role-playing game he was involved in. Dirk the Daring, the amazingly handsome, chivalrous, incredibly strong knight did many an amazing thing – stormed castles, saved damsels and made me want to poke my eyes out, choke on my own tongue, slash my wrists with the soft edges of my purse. “… and can you believe, the party just had to disbelieve in the chasm and it would have gone away? HAHAHAHAH!” No. I also couldn’t believe that I wasn’t capable of making myself spontaneously combust.
Now mind you, the store’s clerks were now staring and laughing. It turns out, Colostomy Bag Ron had been kicked out of the stores numerous times for bugging females. He also had a habit of kissing hands something I’m glad he’d been broken of by the time he ran into me. They had rescued Kendra 15 minutes earlier, but since I knew them personally, they were standing back and laughing at me while I chanced shooting them nasty looks. With most male geeks, you can do this in their presence and they’re either completely oblivious to it or not particularly bothered.
A young boy approached hearing these “wonderful” tales and tried to work himself in the conversation. To him, it was like getting your mom’s attention. Colostomy Bag Ron shot down the kid’s stories. “Well, did you take into consideration that going through the sewers, you would have exposed yourself to many bacteria. Son, did you roll for…” He was actually competing with a 12 year old. Eventually, I broke free, hissed and spit at the store staff that were all in the throes of laughter and left. (Kendra, remind me again why you couldn’t come to my rescue? AHEM.)
Since then I almost always have Jay with me as a shield, but a few months ago I got approached again. This time it was because I was holding a Previews catalog. Previews has everything any geek could ever want from kitschy items, t-shirts, comics… if it’s geek, it’s in there. It’s a great catalog to keep by the toilet. No reason. Anyway, the guy who came up to me was a “reporter” for some obscure magazine. Obscure meaning I’ve never heard of it. He wanted to talk to me about comics and was just positive I would have something to say. Sadly for him, I wasn’t in the mood. He jotted down some of my information, whipped out a digital recorder and asked, “Do you read comics?” “No.” “Umm… why do you have a Previews catalog?” I batted my eyes and contorted my face so I resembled Amy Sedaris in “Strangers with Candy” and replied, “I like all the pretty pictures!” Click. The interview was over. Buh Bye. See, I typically just like to go to the stores and conventions just to absorb the geek vibe. I rarely want something from them. The shirts open those doors.
Of course, sometimes at the end of our excursions Jay will say “let’s go have lunch” and there I am, in the geekiest of shirts staring down someone named Tiffy whose cuter than a basket full of puppies and fuzzy yellow chicks. I groan and it makes me realize I seriously need to bring a change of clothes.