Monday, March 28, 2011


Being a young pre-teen geek was liberating. The excitement and fascination derived from an obsession with pop culture freed you from fear of embarrassment. You knew who you were and were ok with it. This heightened self-awareness and self confidence in non-geek circles would have resulted in an elevated popularity and even attractiveness. Instead, our reward was the constant ridicule at the hands of those less imaginative and know, those graced with elevated popularity and attractiveness. Ultimately, we nerdkind pitied these constrained narrow-minded knuckle-dragging socialites, confident they would one day be crushed under the metal heel of the Super Robot we would eventually complete.

A common pre-teen geek pastime was play-acting scenes from our favourite pre-teen geek television shows and movies, such as Buck Rogers, Logan's Run, and Planet of the Apes. The 1978/79 tv season provided fodder for our already overactive minds in the form of one of the largest scale network sci-fi extravaganzas since Star Trek: BSG, or Battlestar Galactica to the uninitiated. During recess and lunch we'd divide up into 2 opposing but equally socially awkward teams, the rag-tag Colonial Viper pilots vs the evil robotic cyclopean Cylons, and re-enact situations from the previous nights episode. Sticks and slide-rules substituted for blasters, and for added realism someone would invariably bring hockey gloves for the Cylon team. Everyone had memorized the 2 edicts of play: the good guys always won, and you fell down when shot (dramatic license was varied and subjective). For the most part everyone knew and accepted their roles once assigned...except Robbie. 

Robbie was a maladroit and gawky Skippy Handelman-like lad, even by geek standards. His Chicletesque front teeth were much too large for his crooked mouth, and he was perpetually tripping over his gangly appendages like some drunken spider-monkey. In the geek hierarchy Robbie was our Gleek, Bat-Mite, 7 Zark 7, and H.E.R.B.I.E rolled into one. He unintentionally made us feel better about ourselves, and took the brunt of the abuse from the cro-mags; if we'd been chicks he would have been the fat one. When we played Thundecats he was Snarf, when it was He-Man, Orko. And when we role-played BSG, he was Muffit, the daggit.

Robbie was becoming disenfranchised with his ascribed lot in geekdom, and one fine spring day, in an unprecedented show of assertiveness, decided to attempt a move up the food chain. We had gathered at recess in behind portable # 3 so as to avoid a roving band of mean spirited but comely eighth graders. In a blatant breach of character and etiquette Robbie stammered "Dibs on Starbuck!", his eyes furtively darting around, looking at all of us but settling on none. There was a collective gasp from the others, followed by a pregnant silence as the eyes of the consortium each in turn fell on me expectantly. Noone had seen this gambit coming. Calmly, coolly, pretending this wasn't as big a deal as we all knew it was, I replied with a chuckle in a kindly albeit patronizing tone, "Robbie, I'M Starbuck. I'm ALWAYS Starbuck". 

Visibly deflated, but realizing he had reached the point of no return, Robbie held his ground. He puffed out his concave chest and barked "Excatly! Why do YOU always get to be Starbuck? Why can't we, I dunno, take turns or something?". I could see the others starting to process this postulation. I had to act fast. Putting on my best Starbuck smile, a hand on Robbie's shoulder, I stated my case as if to a simpleton "Robbie Robbie Robbie. Starbuck has long blond hair and blue eyes. I have long blond hair and blue eyes. I'm Starbuck". Robbie wasn't going down without a fight, "Luke Skywalker has blonde hair and blue eyes, but you're always Han Solo!". This point seemed to hold resonance for the others, their greasy brows creased in consternation and they collectively looked to me. I looked at make believe Apollo, Boomer, and finally Robbie, slowly shaking my head in mock disbelief, "You can't be serious. That's Star Wars! You telling me you don't know the difference between Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica?!". The gang looked intently at nothing down by their shuffling Keds, and not wanting to lose geek cred, a jumbled chorus of "Yeah yeah. Of Course. Totally" unanimously went up. The rebellion had been quelled.

Truth is, I was always Starbuck because I was the best looking.


  1. You are always a great story teller... YOU need to get your own speaking tour... (smile)

    Not posted from my iPad BECAUSE I have not seen my iPad since we brought it home. Damn nerdy husband... oh I trust he will be reading this shortly... on my iPad... i believe he was subject to youthful nerdalescence...