While working out of state recently, I was emotionally moved by a TV dating show called 'Geek Love'. Yes, emotionally moved. Affected.
Did the producers of this trinket take their title from Katherine Dunn's fantastic novel, a big favorite of mine? Maybe. Of course, the geeks of Dunn's novel are the carny-type geeks who bite heads off feathered animals and ingest liquids deemed toxic to the rest of us. The geeks of 'Geek Love', the TV show, are obsessed fans of Buffy, Lost, Star Wars, Star Trek, Twilight, Iron Man, X-Men, and anything else deemed worthy of worship. At school, these folks were treated worse than chicken head eaters, I'm sure. I know I was.
The purpose of the show, beyond making profits for MTV!, is getting geeks tethered. Based around geek gatherings like San Diego's Comic Con, the show throws the geeks into a speed dating situation where they are forced to sell themselves to each other. Each endures thirty dates. Afterwards, the geeks ruminate on their dates and pray that someone out there will "get" them.
The show focuses on specific geeks, and we follow them through the process. Some score, and waltz away tethered, smug, and content; others return to their geek isolation. There's lots of sad and a little bit of happy. It was refreshing to see a broad age range amongst the geeks. Some were in their thirties. Most were in their early twenties or late teens. The message was clear: When you're a geek, finding love is like punching your way through a brick wall with the fist of a mortal.
The young Phantom: Geek in training!
I warmed to this show because I was/still am a geek. Actually, I was a geek way before a place existed for geeks to gather and way, way before the internet provided a refuge for our type. When I was a pint-sized, pre-teen horror and sci-fi fan, I was the school freak, and my geekery was not welcome. I had terrible trouble recruiting pre-teen vampire brides for my Catholic school re-staging of 'Count Yorga Vampire'. Only one lass was willing to allow my teeth in her neck. Most potential brides wouldn't even stand close to my cardboard coffin.
Things got ugly at high school. By then, my geek-a-philia had turned chronic, and I was walking the playground with a James Blish Star Trek novelization in my blazer pocket, Starlog #1 (wrapped in plastic!) in my hand, and James Herbert's The Rats in my other hand. I whistled the Star Wars theme at morning tea, played Johhny Williams' Lost in Space theme from my portable cassette player at lunchtime, and hummed the Space:1999 theme (second season) at afternoon tea. If anybody identified it, I'd grill them about what season it was from. If they got it wrong, the sky would fall. I'd won my cassette player as a geek twirling a yo-yo at a local competition run by Coca Cola. My record was 800 loop-the-loops. I'd beaten a kid who managed only 779 loops and looked like a junior heroin junkie. On the following year, he was referred to a 'Heroin Kid'. I eventually mastered the 'rollercoaster', too, a neat trick, and came close to wielding two yo-yo's at once without getting the strings tangled.
My penchant for bringing geek things to school backfired on me the morning I proudly presented the first six back issues of Starlog (cost: a damn fortune!) to an up-and-coming geek I was grooming. As he marveled at their graphic ingenuity and a choice Mr. Spock (not 'Dr. Spock', morons!) cover, the school bully, Dibby Brash, ripped them from my apprentice's hands and stomped them into crinkled balls in front of both of our disbelieving eyes. My geek apostle froze like stone and I launched myself at the Brash heathen. I wasn't stronger than him or fiercer, but my geek anger bestowed on me five seconds of immortal power that enabled me to apply a balled fist to his acne-infested face. He crashed to the cold concrete of the dark corridor and never, ever, ever came near me again. Now and then, as I would sit on a bench at lunchtime reading a Dr. Who novel (thanks, Terry Nation), I'd look up to see Brash slipping by quietly, his pizza face hiding eyes that wouldn't meet mine.
I attended an all-boys school and had minimal exposure to females outside of my (much-despised) sister, and mother -- who weren't officially females in my twisted book, anyway. I enjoyed weekends with the gorgeous Gilling sisters (close neighbors) and practiced the odd intimacy with them on the grassy cliffs by the motorbike tracks. Again, they were neighbors, not unknown females, so courting rituals weren't necessary components of my interaction with them. The courting -- if you want to call it that -- began when I was forced to take ballroom dancing lessons at sixteen. I flat-out refused at first because, as far as I was concerned, ballroom dancing was for poofters (Australian for queers, fags, fruits, and anybody who wore white socks) like that future Aussie film director with the same birthday as me: Baz Luhrmann. He grew up and made Strictly Ballroom. What hetero male does that with balls hanging proudly? Seriously! If he's not a poof, I'm a Bangkok trannie. But he's married, you argue! So was Elton John, I scream back.
Elton marries...what were you thinking, mate???!!!
Anyway, I only agreed to learn poofter-approved ballroom dancing because it got me out of the house on Sunday nights and gave me access to girls.
Well, access to girls is one thing is one thing, but gaining it without the help of a ski mask and a Rambo knife is another thing altogether. Gaining it requires conversation. A type of conversation that I couldn't make. Not to a satisfactory degree, anyway.
When your head is loaded with Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr. Who, Lost in Space, Dr. Smith, Dr. Death, Dr. Cyclops and lesbian vampires, starting conversations with snotty girls from private schools isn't easy. Once you're done with the small talk ("What's your name?" "What school do you go to?"), the space between you and her is an almighty gulf, a gulf that Klingons, Daleks, giant rats, and Sucking Pits (thank you, Guy Smith) just can't bridge. The truth was, I wanted to touch their vaginas and inspect their breasts, and maybe they were game for it, but I didn't own the magic words to open those doors. I knew words like "Exterminate!", phrases like "Live long and prosper!," and reprimands like "Shut up, Booby, or I'll take a stick to your bubble." None of these lines got you laid back in '78 with non-Geek sheilas (Aussie and informal for anything young and female).
Now, the Geek boys have 'Geek Love' to assist them with their courting... and the Geek sheilas, like the cutie above, are out of the closet, and they want love, too. I'm sure that a young fella's idea of love still remains at odds with a young woman's idea, but at least they're starting the process on common ground.
When you're born off the grid, it's pleasant to discover other subterranean grid dwellers. A TV show that embraces and acknowledges them is a bonus.