I sit in my chair looking down at my feet. I can feel the eyes on me, hear the whispers. I'm the new one. The man up front clears his throat loudly, calling everyone to attention. I glance up and realize that he is staring at me. He raises an eyebrow, waiting impatiently for me to make my move.
I rise slowly, ignoring the stares as I walk to the front of the room. I step behind the podium and raise my head to face my peers. I open my mouth to speak, but my throat is dry, so instead I cough. How do I do this? I've never been in this position before. I never thought it would be me standing here, in this room filled with people I've always mocked. I half expected rotten tomatoes to start flying towards my face as they realized who I was, and that I had finally joined them. I've already come this far, so I might as well get it over with. I look around the room, take a deep breath, and reveal my darkest secret: "Hello, my name is Jess, and I'm a nerd."
I know. Me? A nerd? No way. Not possible. Not sensible, witty, intellectual, sarcastic me! How did this happen? I have no answer for you, because I'm just as stumped as you are at the moment. It came out of nowhere....
It was on a Saturday, only a few weeks ago. All was well in Jess world. I sat high on my self-satisfied throne, reveling in the fact that despite living with the absolute dorkiness of Gary for the past three years, I had somehow managed to hold on to my refusal to do all things nerd. I saw Star Trek, but seeing as how it was a blockbuster hit, that was okay. I watched the Star Wars movies with Gary, but Ewan MacGregor and Harrison Ford starred, so that was okay too. I still refused to watch the Star Wars cartoons that Gary loves so much. I wouldn't play the ridiculous computer games that Gary wasted so much time playing.
If I was being honest, I somewhat resented those games for taking Gary's attention from me for hours at a time. Of course, he made sure to make plenty of time for me, but playing those games was his release from the world. He could relax, forget about the stress of life and just focus on killing monsters or whatever it was he did. I really couldn't have cared less. When he tried to tell me about some "new and exciting" addition to one of the games, I half-listened and nodded unenthusiastically until he gave up and dropped it. So that became our routine: put the babies to bed, then "us" time, followed by Gary on the computer and me in the recliner either watching Ace of Cakes or reading.
On this particular day, I was messing around on my laptop, checking facebook and myspace. I realized that I had failed to check my email for a few weeks, so I logged in and started scrolling through the mail. I paused when I saw an email from Gary. This was unusual, because Gary and I never email each other. Ever. I clicked on the email that reavealed a link, followed by a message: "Gary has sent you a free trial of World of Warcraft." Under that message was a personal message from Gary. I won't quote it, but it more or less stated to me that it would mean so much to him if I would "just give it a try." Aww, come on! Not the guilt trip! Now, Gary doesn't often take advantage of my tenderheartedness. This time though, he did. Shameful.
I finished reading his message, then looked up at him. He, of course, was playing on the computer. I waited for him to feel my eyes boring into his head, then gave him my best unamused face when he finally looked at me. "Really?" I asked. "Warcraft? I know you're not serious." He shrugged. "I just thought I'd try," he said, then turned back to the computer. I stared at him for a moment, then looked back at the message he had sent. He meant to sound like it was unimportant, but after reading his message again, I knew that it really was a big deal to him.
I must have stared at the email for twenty minutes, warring with myself. It was against everything that was me to play this ridiculous game. It went against all my principles. I had spent THREE years weaseling my way out of golf, star trek movies (the old ones), Star Wars Halloween costumes, and every other dorky thing Gary had tried to convince me to do. All of that rebellion, only to cave now? It seemed like failure. Surrender. Was I to give up and wave the white flag? Embrace the nerd that Gary just knew was buried somewhere deep inside me? Or would I rebel yet again? My fight or flight urge screamed at me to flee immediately.
I started to delete the email, when a small nagging voice stopped me. How could I disappoint Gary? Gary, who had endured God knows how many shopping trips, chick flicks and emotional outbursts from me without a single complaint? Who had bravely eaten every meal I ever cooked, even when they were awful? Who always did anything I asked him to, even if he didn't want to, because it would make me happy?
Eventually the guilt won out over the defiance, and I decided to try World of Warcraft. It was only a ten-day trial. I could certainly endure ten days...
Fast forward to today. I am certainly not going to indulge information about my participation in this game. I do have some dignity left, after all. I will admit though, that I was astounded to find that I do, in fact, have a little bit of nerd in me.