Revenge of the Nerds

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Atlanta magazine’s offices are directly across the street from the Hyatt Regency, the central hub for the annual extravaganza that is DragonCon—the world’s largest sci-fi, fantasy, comics, etc. convention. Each year as registrants queue up outside the Hyatt we cram into the art department, where nice large windows offer a view of the pirates, vampires, anime characters, and heavyset men in black T-shirts who stand in line waiting for the exhibit halls to open. We wander over to the Peachtree Center food court to catch Vulcans eating Chick-fil-A and corseted wenches lining up at Subway. And we offer more than a few snarky comments. (Really, who told chunky guys that wearing utility kilts—yes, kilts!—would be figure flattering?)

Yesterday I walked across the street to shoot a little video, asking everyone I met the same question: “Why do you come to DragonCon?” You can see some of the answers here.

What struck me was how happy everyone seemed. How much honest fun they were having. Rather than acting like stereotypical reclusive, friendless geeks, they were engaged and self-assured. After all, you’ve got to have a lot of self confidence to parade around Peachtree wearing some of those get-ups.

People like to belong, whatever form that takes. Today while running errands I ran into lots of Virginia Tech fans in town for the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff Game. Most were wearing hideous orange jerseys, and I am sure many will paint their faces, chests, or other body parts as they stream into the Dome tonight.

Is dressing in head-to-toe team gear and tailgating ’til you’re silly really that different from dressing like an extra from Lord of the Rings or singing folk songs in Klingon?

Not that this epiphany means I’ll be donning vampire gear or collecting Star Wars figures any time soon, thank you very much. Nor, for that matter, will you find me near a football stadium. Maybe it’s true that we never outgrow high school. There will always be jocks, nerds, and the moody girl reading a book in the corner.

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