Chicago Tribune’s RedEye July 13, 2011
I have a confession to make: I have pop culture shame.
It’s not something I like about myself. I’m deeply torn between my desire to appear cool and my absolute, ocean-spanning, climb-every-mountain love for all things nerdy. It’s a delicate balance—my will to delve into comic books and my fear of getting shunned for talking about them.
Let me give you an example. Last weekend, I was with some (very cool) friends when the subject of the legendary actress Maggie Smith came up. Everyone was talking about her various roles when, inevitably, someone mentioned “Harry Potter.” No one, it seemed, could remember her character’s name. They hemmed and hawed and adjusted their vintage sunglasses and scratched their sleeve tattoos thoughtfully while, inside, I was screaming, “Professor McGonagall! She’s Minerva McGonagall, the Transfiguration teacher and Head of the Gryffindor House!”
I didn’t say anything for the same reason I sometimes pretend to not know what a Browncoat is or that I didn’t read the entire “Hunger Games” series in a week: It was a party full of cool kids and I would have been instantly declared the biggest nerd there.
That wasn’t the first time I hid my Batgirl Underoos beneath my skinny jeans. It all started back in high school, that hotbed of social anxiety. While my friends raved about ‘NSync and “Dawson’s Creek,” I was confused about their appeal. I feigned intense love for Justin Timberlake during the day and then retired to my bedroom to watch zombie movies and pen painfully terrible “X-Files” fan fiction at night.
I had no guilt back then about my double life. I saw what happened to those who embraced their geekery and their “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Trapper Keepers. They were driven to the outskirts of the brutal high school society. They were scoffed at, ridiculed, tripped in the hallways and pushed lower on the social ladder then the smelly kids. My life of lies was a survival tactic.
Well, I’m tired of living a lie. The time has come. It is time for me to publicly embrace my love of all things geeky. Do your worst, cool kids! That which shames me makes me a bigger fangirl.
Yes, I have tried to replicate a recipe for Butterbeer. I Googled the International Quidditch Association (it’s a real thing, guys). A stuffed Hedwig sleeps perched beside me each night. I pre-ordered my tickets to “The Deathly Hallows: Part II” three months ago, and when I do go to opening night, I’ll be wearing a Gryffindor tie.
There. I feel so much better now.