Hey Nerds! Kids! By Shawn Spurlock
I used to think stuff… I used to think I’d be a film director, a writer, or even an astronaut at one point. I currently am none of these, although I can clearly type things. Anyway, I conversely used to think I would never live in Wisconsin, see the word “sick” mean cool again, or have a child. All of these have transpired with various degrees of joy and sadness involved. Now before I wax rhapsodic about the aggressively first world troubles that being a nerd dad presents, let’s begin with the understanding that folks are different. Some love children, some loathe the mewling brood. Regardless of your stance on adorable tykes and poppets, remember we need the damn things to grow up and draw more comics at some point.
The first child Owen, is my stepson. For those with familial connections that number in the 1’s, a stepchild is very much like a mini-series. They vary wildly in quality, but are generally considered to be just as good if not better than the main title. There seems to be a trend moving to call them “bonus” children, which makes them more like a 100 Page Super-Spectacular or multi-ball on any modern pinball machine. My bonus child is now “level 15” and cares very little for American comics. He does enjoy manga and anime, but is only mildly interested at best in what I want him to be very interested in. Which essentially means that he knows more about a whole country’s worth of comics than I do. Being much less stern than my parents, I approached the situation with a modern levelheadedness… I shunned him and he shall live in the shed until he can name at least 5 members of the Legion of Substitute Heroes. Yeah, the Substitutes. That’s what my child gets for learning about the X-Men on friggin’ YouTube. “It puts the names in the basket, and it better not try to use Infectious Lass twice.”
The second scamp living with me is one of my own design. After fifty years of roaming the earth virtually unchecked, I decided to create my own comic book fan, both for love…and science. As I am basically a nearly Buddhist Head Researcher for my own long-term experiment, I thought I could handle a little science side hustle and unleashed a wee me upon you all. No doubt he would be well behaved, eat what he’s given, and exist with a passionate love for the art form that dad both cherished and also used to provide the aforementioned food. Upon receiving and collating the first wave of samples, we here at Shawnannigans Labs are fairly certain that Booker is mostly only one of these things for part of the time.
So, just like his brother, Books has no real interest in comics. In fact, he doesn’t even display Ozer’s mild amusement with manga (I’ve decided to use their nicknames because typing their full names feels like I’m typing angry -Congratulations non-parents for not understanding this feeling). Books needs no flimsy, old timey pamphlet when he has the power of The Screens, and if you’re assuming that sitting and playing video games while watching YouTube all day is his jam, then you haven’t tried to keep up with the kid outside. One of the greatest ironies of my entire existence is that the first boy didn’t like sports at all, really, he was a total indoor kid. Nope, it’s the child that I decided to have at 50 that wants to play games and run around outside all day long during the summer. However, the winter is long and the screens are always warm. Right about now you may be thinking, “Get over it, you big baby, kids are gonna be whoever they’re gonna be.” as if I was oblivious to this fact. I am not. In fact, I’m reasonably certain that my parents didn’t spend a bunch of money on private school without certain expectations. I’m sure they would be delighted to see that I’ve become the Head Researcher of my own imaginary lab complex.
Here’s the thing. I thought it was going to be different this time. I really did. I’ve been selling comics for so long that I can remember when the job was considered a mere step above pornographer. If I was chatting up a girl, I frequently became a bookseller. Like many a superhero, I had two identities, bibliophile in the bar, nerd in my action figure-littered living room. My job was not considered “sick” at all. No cap.
Then came a glorious day for the hidden nerd. It is the day we solemnly mark as the beginning of “Our Time”. I am compelled to quote from our most revered texts, “the Vector of Nerdosity”. “And ‘lo they were released into the light with the great signings, for on that day the horsemen performed their agency, bringing contracts forth unto The Downey and the Elf dude.” “From that day forward, the nerds were let out from their sheds into the prime world, to be shunned no more.”
Yeah, that’s right. I thought I had it made. I was money, just like Favreau. My main problem was how hard it was going to be retaining my balance on the pedestal Books would place me on. Yes, the MCU would no doubt make me a bussing dad, albeit one that might move a bit slower than the other fathers. I would nurture his funny book love, presenting him gifts of key issues to build a collection that he would remember me by. Non-parents may opt to replace the term “key issues” with the term “future drugs”. At this particular juncture, the Shawnannigans team has informed me that they are confident that this scenario is not a measurable possibility. Clearly, Books will just have to buy his own drugs. Everybody knows you can’t make science without breaking a few eggs, or in this case one very specific former egg.
However, a funny thing happened on the way to the graveyard. Once I realized that I had no control whatsoever over making some kids more like me, I had a plan. Well, at least 12 percent of a plan. I thought to myself, self I thought, “You’ve been you a bunch, maybe you might benefit from being more like them?” As that’s so very much easier to think than to be, I asked the team at the labs for assistance. Fortunately, they were able to reset my internal dip switches using a two-part program involving leveling up with meditation and whiskey. I’m now okay that the boys aren’t going to love comics as much as I do, because I love them more than I do comics. Not only that, now I can read them backwards. The comics, not the children. Can’t read them at all, they’re just loopy.
This one’s for Chip, former Graham Crackers Guy and forever friend. If you’re listening pal, stop trying to perfect that Jim Henson impression and get out of bed soon.