I was a nerdy small child in the way that I had to get all A’s and had a love for science in general, but especially animals and gemstones. I watched stuff like the Power Rangers like every kid, too. I was shunned for a good portion on my childhood because I was quiet and not a stick figure incarnate. I’m almost disappointed that I wasn’t teased because I was nerdy as all get out, but was by my appearance. I didn’t even have bullies that tried hard enough to dislike me for who I was. The nerve! As soon as I found my geeky interests, though, I was always real proud to talk about them. I was old enough that not everyone cared that I drew monsters or quoted Monty Python every reasonable chance I got. I’m really sad that I don’t have any budding geek stories.
The closest thing to one is when I was at a friend’s birthday party at McDonald’s. I was probably about 7, maybe a year older. I don’t even remember who it was for or how long I was playing in the petri dish that is a McDonald’s Playplace, but there was one thing in particular that made me hide in the furthest corner of the plastic tubing that would still allow me to see what was happening outside. I was trapped by the presence of the White Ranger from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
Most kids were beyond excited. I fled. As I said, I loved the show, but I had an irrational fear of people in costumes. I think it started with a clown that claimed he had sandwiches in his big shoes and I was scarred for life. My brain couldn’t process that sandwich storage method and everyone else I met in costume became objects of fear. Santa freaked me out and costume characters were the worst. So, my tiny brain had a huge problem figuring out what to do with this masked man. I don’t know if I realized it wasn’t the guy from TV or not, honestly. Just the thought of costumed people trumped my desire to go introduce myself to someone I spent countless hours watching on TV. I did watch in wonder of all the kids just hanging around him like there was nothing wrong, but I feared for their lives. I was sure there was something about to go down and only I would be safe because there was no way he would fit in these tubes. I only came out once he left. My mother couldn’t figure it out.
This isn’t a traditionally nerdy story. Most people don’t fear for their lives when the object of their adoration is in the same room as them. All I know is that I’ve since gotten over my fear. Want to know how? I became a seasonal costume character and did it for four years for various events at my local zoo. It doesn’t make a lick of sense, but that’s fine with me.