Wednesday, November 18, 2009

When nerds roamed the earth

I had to stop by my kid’s elementary school the other day to drop something off and was amazed at how little had changed since I was a member of the early education system.
I don’t mean the actual building, but the kids themselves.
Within minutes I could spot the nerds, cool kids, bad kids and the jocks.
Nature just has a way of separating the herd into appropriate clusters. It’s the whole birds of a feather thing.
I began to look back on my elementary years and all sorts of memories came flooding back until I was once again curled up in the corner of the room, rubbing my head and chanting, “make the bad thoughts go away, make the bad thoughts go away.”
In case you haven’t figured it out, school was not exactly a great time for me. I know I hide it well, but sometimes people can guess school was about as much fun as eyeball surgery without anesthetic – only more painful.
As if nature did not already have a way of sorting things out, there were all these little rituals that helped place the students in their appropriate groups.
Elementary school is a prime example of the strong shall survive and the weak shall be picked last for every sporting event.
I am not sure who came up with this one, but when I was in school this is how teams were selected for a lunch-hour game of football or whatever: the two top jocks would start picking kids and the lesser players would all huddle together, each secretly hoping they weren’t going to be the last to be chosen.
One by one, names would be called out until a handful of sad, pathetic athlete wannabes were left standing in front of everyone looking not unlike puppies in the store window hoping someone will pick them.
The worst, of course, is being the last one to be called.
“OK, I choose Tommy.”
“Tommy? You chose Tommy over me? He has two broken legs and a neck brace on.”
“I know, and your point is.”
It’s not good for your self esteem when a kid who was hit by a truck and spent three weeks in a coma is thought to be more beneficial to the team than you are.
Not that I am speaking from experience or anything. I heard about it from some one, yeah, that’s right, I heard about it.
I was never picked last for anything actually, which basically means I was not even a good enough nerd to be the chief nerd, I was kind of a middle-of-the-road nerd.
Unless you are among the first half or so selected, it is a cruel way to pick a team. As the numbers dwindle, it sort of turns into a nerd parade, where people driving by in their cars glance over and say, “Oh, look honey, it’s a flock of nerds. Get the camera.”
The non-nerds will tell their children tales of the nerd herd.
“Yes my son, there was a day when nerds roamed this land. They were all over this field, free range nerds I liked to call them. Yup, it was quite a sight to see.”
Due to political correctness, I doubt there are any official nerds in the school system anymore.
I am sure there are a lot of cool-challenged kids out there who are also suffering from a social skills deficiency, but actual nerds, not any more.
A nerd by any other name – will still likely be picked last for a sports team.
And there is nothing wrong with going to the junior high school dance by yourself. I read that even Brad Pitt could not get a date for his school’s big dance.
OK, I made that whole Brad Pitt thing up, but a guy can always hope can’t he.
Entering high school proved interesting because with three elementary schools funneling into one melting pot of youthfulness, the nerd population grew accordingly.
We, um, er, I mean the nerds, would spot each other in the hallway and have an instant comraderie born of the need for survival.
Life could be hard for the nerd and we, er, um, I mean they often travelled in packs for self defense as much as mutual bonding.
The weaker nerds would get picked off by marauding gangs of jocks and be stuffed in garbage cans while the stronger nerds made good their escape.
Eventually, the nerds grew up, became computer experts or whatever and hired the jocks – who failed to take their sports career beyond high school – to mow their lawns and wash their cars.

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