Why do we do it? We geeks (and nerds) shell out hard-earned money for the chance to escape into a 2.5 hour reverie of super heroes smashing things and trading quips, but why? Is it to escape momentarily from our dreary lives? Of course it is. But it matters what kind of escape. Nobody ever “geeked out” with a John Grisham or a Danielle Steel. For us, escape means believing (if only for a moment) that evil takes the form of a cackling malevolence that can be punched in the face. Wouldn’t it be nice if all the misfortune in the world were attributable to scheming villains rather than to poor decision-making, cruel fate or simple bad luck?
I’ve spent several nights this week listening to Lovecraft horror stories at 3 A.M. to help me get back to sleep after normal anxieties caused me to wake in a sweat. Ancient bogies and the world’s end are a relief from the contemplation of the path of my life. How’s yours, reader?
I don’t need much. I can live on beans and rice for food and library books for entertainment. Just give me, every now and again, something new to look forward to. Something to keep me from cursing the sunrise each morning. A decent summer movie with smashing and catsuit? It’ll do.
Part Two: Staying Sane
Lovecraft was on to something when he said (in every story he ever wrote, near as I can tell) that there are nameless horrors ill-hidden within and without that gnaw at the souls of men. Upon reaching middle age, a person needs a strategy to keep from losing his marbles in the face of a world swiftly tilting to madness. I’ve settled on a miniatures game hobby.
Chief among the merits: it can be enjoyed alone. The preparation and painting of a single miniature can easily eat up a whole day! And when one can’t be alone, the figures can be used for play, if ever you manage to read through the many large rulebooks. Afterwards the game itself can be discussed over beer and snacks, the way other people talk sports. As vices go, gaming isn’t very expensive or harmful. You’d have to eat a lot of tin soldiers to get the cancer risk of a cigar, and the heartbreak of a botched dye job doesn’t come near what an ordinary floozie can inflict.
The important thing is to keep one’s hands and brain too busy to contemplate the void. Anything is preferable to sitting and thinking.
Part Three: Kickass Camaraderie
Odysseus and Ishmael may have been the sole survivors of their respective voyages, but neither would have made it without the aid of their comrades. With geekdom comes company at least enough to ease the journey. It’s more than just shared books or shared memories. As with the baboons that gather to pick nits, the point isn’t so much the thing itself as the opportunity to commune. That Fantastic Four tee-shirt of yours is just another tribal marker. Let your freak flag fly, my friends.
Part Four: Kobayashi Issa
In this world, we walk on the roof of hell gazing at flowers.