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My favorite geeks

Imagine a little girl in pink granny glasses. Her haircut gives her a boyish look and she’s dressed in a purple checked sweater with red high waters and electric-blue duck shoes. A couple of kids on the playground tell her how cool she looks, and -- not comprehending their sarcasm -- she smiles brightly and thanks them.

That was me -- the dork in ginormous glasses. I answered to many names in elementary school -- loser, duck feet, four eyes and a few others I'd rather forget -- smart, pretty and fashionable I was not. It felt like the end of the world back then. All the popular girls braided each other's hair during story time at the library while I picked my nose and talked to myself. 

I'm not ashamed to admit it. I was a dork -- as big a dork as it's possible to be -- and it gave me character. I think Lester Bangs said it best : "Good-looking people don't have any spine. Their art never lasts."

No one called 4-year-old Paris Hilton -- or Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears or Kim Kardashian -- a dork. 

Losers can laugh at themselves. They take the bad times and make them funny. They know the value of brains over beauty.

I wasn't smart in school. I was bitter and ambivalent and an all-around shit, and I wasted a lot of time blaming my problems on my parents and my teachers and a pretty severe case of ADD. I stumbled around for a long time thinking "if only I was pretty, I could ..." I never believed I was smart -- not when I got into college having never finished high school, not when I got into grad school ... I never believed I had brains until I put them to use at a newspaper. And -- wow -- I was a journalist.

Before I was smart, I wanted to be an actress. My favorite movie was Pretty Woman, and I truly believed that my odds of busting into show business were better than my odds of getting into college. I feel dirty now just thinking about it.

I admire people with grit -- fallible human beings, former geeks, witty curmudgeons and beautiful minds. All of my heroes -- the flesh and the fictional -- have at one time described themselves as dorks.

1. Emily Litella, aka Gilda Radner -- Ms. Litella, who provided editorial commentary on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update in the 1970s, was inspired by Radner's childhood nanny. She's a well-meaning often misinformed character who always brings joy to my heart. All of Radner's characters -- Lisa Loopner, Judy Miller, Colleen Fernman, Baba Wawa, Bobbi Farber, Brungilda, Candy Slice, Connie Carson, Debbie Doody, Granny, Jane Herkiman, Jenny Rocker, Rhonda Weiss, Rosa Santangelo, Roseanne Roseannadanna, Tammy Widette and Tracy -- make her my favorite comic of all time.

2. Tina Fey -- She's one of Hollywood's brightest stars, and she's successful because of her inner beauty. Society puts so much pressure on girls to be pretty and skinny and sexy and PRETTY. Here is someone who got to the top with her brain.

3. Lewis Black -- If you turned me inside out we'd be twins. He's full of piss and vinegar, he's honest, and he's funny. He's not a hunk-o-hunk-o-burning-love on the outside, but I think his brain is very sexy. 


  1. I agree with you on all counts. However I must say that Tina Fey is super hot and the fact that's she's witty and a total goofball puts her over the top in respect to overall attractiveness.

    Also when I say I agree with you I mean the overall point you're trying to get across here. I can't say that I ever knew you as a kid to witness your dorkiness.

    Keep up the great writing. I'm enjoying reading them. Thanks for sharing.


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