I had my head buried in my 3DS, fighting a monster in Monster Hunter 4. One of the big ones, which means I was in pretty much a boss battle. I was also, for full disclosure, sitting at a table with my family before the start of a Court of Honor for my eldest’s Boy Scout Troop. I was not socializing. I had had an emotionally rough week, and being an introvert I was done with people. But the eldest was getting a new rank and one of the other Scouts was getting his Eagle, so I was there to support them. It was at that point that I heard a voice say that word behind me. And it was not excited, or pleased, or even friendly.
It has taken me a long time to get comfortable with my interests. And we’re talking beyond the barrier of being a girl playing a video games. The things I spend my free time on were often derided as a child. I was told more than once that my interest in reading fantasy novels was ridiculous. I was told my love of cartoons was childish. I was laughed at when I described a cool turn of events in an anime. I was told I lived in a dream world. Even so, as I grew up I never stopped loving those things. I found cartoons and anime to be either art in motion, intriguing storytelling, or snarky brilliance. I kept reading fantasy novels. I love a story that is thought provoking, that has real interpersonal relationships, that expands your mind, that is full of new ideas, that has battles between good and evil where the definition is not always black and white, and, well, is preferably set in a world where magic is possible. I watch tv and movies that have amazingly cleverly written characters, that have hard to guess plots, that have wit and wisdom, or alternately are sublimely ridiculous and innocently fun.
It wasn’t until after my parents had passed that I put up my first anime related poster in the house. Sure the kids had Lego posters and Skylander and Mario wall stickers, and the husband had a whole collection of Godzilla figures. I was all for encouraging them to like what they liked and to surround themselves with what makes them happy. But I wasn’t comfortable embracing my own likes. I still heard those voices in my head that said my interests were wrong, were childish, were stupid, were an embarrassment. When I put that first poster up, I felt odd about it for a long time. I worried if people who came into the house would point it out and ask why it was there or comment on how strange it was. And there were some comments, but the longer it was up, the more comfortable I became. Then came the Christmas that I announced we were going to put on our Christmas tree any geeky thing we wanted to. I added chemistry molecules for the husband, Toothless for the eldest, a panda for the littlest, and Zelda hearts for me. I even started putting all of my LoZ collectibles out on my shelf.
It does help that society has gotten more accepting of Geekery. Movies based on comic book characters and science fiction have become very profitable. Those kinds of storylines are now acknowledged to be intelligent. And sometimes even clever. If you mention your love of Dr. Who you suddenly become someone who has good taste, who has a quick mind. People walk around wearing t-shirts from various shows and video games. The manga section in bookstores is growing and anime has huge selection on Hulu. You have a basis of talking with more people than ever before if you blurt out that you’re a fangirl.
So there I am, playing MH4, taking down a monster with my dual blades, when a voice cuts through my attention like a heated wire. “Really?” Dripping with disgust or vitriol or derision. Stabbing at my contentedness with the electrified needles of voices past. While I was sitting there, minding my own business, playing on my new 3DS – after not having a gameboy of my own since the kids were born, having gotten permission from the husband to bring it to the event, no, not permission encouragement to bring it so that I had a way to hide from the world and make my heart happy after a crappy week, secretly gleeful to be playing video games in public and not just phone apps. “Really.” I claimed it. I was really a girl playing a video game in public. This is me. “Really?” A bit of confusion here, but still trying to what? Put me in my place? Were your eyes deceiving you? Was I just that much of a moron? “Really.” I know you don’t get me. And that’s ok. I get myself. And I got my monster too.