We were there to get John's stitches out, so to keep him distracted (and ideally, conscious) I was talking to/at him about Moana. The nurse looked up at one point, so I asked if she'd seen it.
"No," she said, bemused.
"Ooh, you should! It's gorgeous, and funny, and the music is really catchy. We've already seen it twice in the theater."
She'd been looking at me kind of strangely, but at this her face cleared.
"Oh!" she said, "That answers my next question, then; you obviously have kids." And she smiled and nodded sort of knowingly at us, like she'd just correctly guessed how many jelly beans were in my crazy jar.
"Uh... no," I said, and she looked alarmed, so I laughed SUPER awkwardly, and for some reason that didn't help, so long story short, thank goodness John only had six stitches to take out.
Again, no big deal, but I keep coming back to that look on the nurse's face. I've seen that look a lot. It's the look you get from people who want to know why anyone without kids would want to vacation at Disney World, or go to a science fiction convention, or wear costumes when it's not Halloween. It's the look you might get - you know, hypothetically - from your in-laws when they find rayguns on display in your living room. It's the amused, confused, and slightly scandalized look of an adult judging another adult for not being adulty enough. (And yes I just made up the word "adulty." WHAT.)
Years ago John and I were at a party with a bunch of people we didn't know, and as I enthusiastically described my latest cosplay to a small sea of furrowed brows, the hostess quite literally - I am not making this up - patted me on the head and said, "Awww." I mean, I get that I'm short and adorable and all, but this came across more... pitying? I think?
So I've been thinking about what separates "adult" entertainment from Kid Stuff. Because I think we can agree it's the "Kid Stuff" that gets us judged, right? If John likes My Little Pony, then that's bad, because it's "for kids" and he should only like shows made for people his own age.
This? Oh, just a random shelf in John's man cave...
But what's the difference between, say, MLP and CSI? What's the difference between a movie rated G and a movie rated R? Assuming the story meets a certain intellectual standard, of course, then I'd say the only real differences are language, sex, violence, and "adult themes" like drugs.
Let's go back to Moana, since I like talking about it. Moana's story is no less complex or emotional or action-packed for being rated G. It's beautiful and hopeful and funny, and it tells a great story. Why should those things only be for kids? And why should we, as adults, be embarrassed for liking those things?
I hear a lot of parents admitting - with guilty smiles - how much they enjoy some of their kids' favorite shows. I often think how sad it is that we feel we need kids as an excuse to watch those shows, to listen to that music, to go to that play or theme park or ren fair or what-have-you. 'Cuz you guys, we're adults. We get to choose now. We get to watch what we want, go where we want, and within the confines of laws and common sense, DO what we want.
I was a pretty serious kid growing up, and as a teen all I wanted was to impress the adults around me. To BE an adult. I was never outrageous or silly or spontaneous. I was careful. Well-spoken. Well-behaved. As a teen I dressed like a soccer mom and sat in my room cross-stitching or reading Star Trek books for fun. And all of that is fine, but now that I am an adult, I've learned how incredibly healthy it is to live a little more out loud. To be a little childish. To be silly and colorful and exuberant, to remember to laugh and not take life so gosh darn seriously. I'm serious enough by nature - too serious, even. Depression runs in my family, as does workaholism and a serious case of overthinkingitus. So I need Disney. I need cosplay. I need steampunk and conventions and Star Trek and friends who'll argue Harry Potter with me and glittery rainbow sneakers. I need all of that to keep me from falling down dark holes, from hardening into a boring, joy-less, perfectly perfunctory "adult."
So whether you need it or not, whether you're fighting hard battles or just frolicking in the beautiful absurdity of life, don't let people poo-poo your passions, peeps. Don't let adultier adults make you feel less adulty. Wear that mashup t-shirt, go to that concert, watch that cartoon, do that thing. Be a little silly. Try something new. Ask a kid what their favorite show or movie is, then go watch it.
And when you're not doing things you love - when you're at work or the grocery store of the doctor's office, don't be afraid to talk about those things. Sure, you'll get odd looks. Yes, people will laugh. But you know what? You'll also introduce some sad, stodgy people to a vastly more fun way of life.
John and I are the weird ones in a lot of our circles, and we're OK with that. Our chiropractor may still shake his head at us, but I think he likes seeing pictures of our latest costumes - and now his receptionist asks us about cons and what we thought of Star Wars. The cashiers at JoAnn's ask what geekery we're up to, and the ones at the grocery store like figuring out our mash-up t-shirts. My parents love steampunk and my in-laws regard it with deep suspicion, though "some of the antiques are nice."
Our neighbors, of course, still think we're nuts.
Still, maybe that nurse will go rent Moana this month, and maybe the next time we see her she'll be singing "I'm so SHINE-AY!"
And then I can totally sing back, "YOU'RE WELCOME!"
Right, your turn:
What's your favorite random encounter introducing a stranger to one of your geeky passions?
Funniest conversation? Most awkward misunderstanding? Have you actually converted anyone to Geek Life? This is a safe space, so c'mon, SHARE.