Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Trumpet players are cool, right?

One day, The Doktah and I got to talking about how geeky we were in high school. We were both in the band and chorus, but I had her beat by yearbook, drama, and band drum major. But The Doktah was in the color guard in college, so we evened out.

At this point, Baseball Cap Guy chimed in. "I wasn’t a geek even though I was in the band because I played the trumpet.” We gave him skeptical looks. Only band geeks assign coolness levels to different instruments in the band. You readers out there who weren’t in the band probably didn’t even realize that the trumpet players thought they were so cool. To the rest of the high school, band is band is band, you don’t get points for playing the trumpet instead of the bass clarinet, The Doktah’s instrument of choice. (Besides, everyone knows that low brass is where it's at.)

But the clincher was when Baseball Cap Guy said, “And anyway, I was on the baseball team, so I definitely wasn’t a geek. It didn’t even matter that I was on the math team.” The Doktah and I burst out laughing.

“Dude, math team trumps baseball team,” I said. “Math team trumps everything! Maybe, maybe, quarterback of the football team cancels math team, causing you to break even, but baseball team? Sorry. You were a geek.” He denied it for some time, but, as usual, we teased him endlessly so he eventually admitted that he was a geek. Or at least he pretended to agree to get us to shut up already.

We weren’t laughing at Baseball Cap Guy’s geekdom. There’s no shame in geekdom. I'm a geek, and so are about 90% of the people I interact with on a daily basis. The Husband, for example, is one of the geekiest people I know. (He gave me a laser for my birthday one year. A laser he built himself.) And I know a lot of geeks; I’m an engineer. So Lord knows that I am in no position to poke fun. We were just highly amused by Baseball Cap Guy’s denial.

But geek denial may be more common than we thought. I was once at a conference that was in the city where my cousin was going to college, so we arranged to have dinner. It must have been around the time of the Math Team conversation, because I was discussing geekdom with my cousin. He said thoughtfully, “I was in the band in high school, but I don’t think that I was a geek.” He paused. “But then, I was on the robotics team…”

Our eyes met across the table, as the realization began to hit him. “Um, I hate to break this to you,” I said.

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