BLOG Appearances Can Be Deceiving

Sacha Goldberger

The other day, I went in search of a certain item for a cosplay. Now, I’m not much of a shopper. In fact, I’d rather do just about anything other than shop for clothes. But cosplay is the exception, I suppose, and when I’m looking for that certain belt that can be modified or those pants that need scuffed just so, I’ll somehow find my way to places that sell such things.

And on this particular trip, though it took several stops, which was beginning to tire me out (seriously, shopping is exhausting!), I was rewarded not only by the perfect item, but a most wonderful conversation.

It went a lot like this:

The clerk at the shop asked me what I needed the boots for. I told her they were for a costume. She asked me what costume. Since I’d already experienced no one knowing who this character was several times that day, I just shrugged and did something I’m not proud of. I told the sweet older lady, who looked like the grandmother from any classic movie, that it was, “a pretty obscure sci-fi character.”

She shrugged and said, “Oh.” I told her I’d show her a picture once I was done trying on my boots. She seemed to like that idea, and later, when I was checking out – after a small adventure in helping her rearrange most of the boots on the shelf, because we found that the pair I wanted were mismlabelled with the wrong size and thus had to search all the boxes for the right set, fixing other problems as we went – she reminded me to show her the picture.

I dug out my phone and showed her. She immediately recognised the photo and started jabbering away about the character, and I felt quite sheepish. Not only did this kindly old woman with the perfectly coiffed hair and stylish clothes know all about the character and the show she’s from, she had a fair bit of costuming experience. She was a chronic renaissance fair attendee!

I told her about my greatest recent feat of repurposing some old purses I found at the second-hand store for their leather, and she shared how she once made a quiver for her son to be Robin Hood using another old handbag. Then we talked about distressing fabric and she reminded me not to forget to mess up my gun belt. Eventually, other customers came along and we had to bring our conversation to an end, but I had a lot of fun chatting with this stranger, and frankly I was reminded of something that I clearly had forgotten.

See, I try very hard to not judge a book by its cover, or a geek by their t-shirt, but obviously sometimes we all fail in that task, and I did that day. Like the oft-lamented plight of the “fake geek girl,” who clearly “can’t” be both attractive and know the difference between Batgirl and Batwoman, I thought this woman would be as genre clueless as my mom, who barely knows Star Trek from Star Wars, simply because she looked the part.

But guess what? Like those (rare) guys who get worked up over ladies invading their convention turf, I was wrong. Frankly, I feel I can be given some leeway for that day, as I’d been showing the photo around all day and no one else had recognised it (in fact, the older lady’s coworker didn’t, so we convinced her to give the show a shot), but still – my bad. Lesson learned.

Sacha Goldberger

So can we all just stop with the preconceived notions in geekdom? Or at least try our best? I’ve certainly been reminded by this encounter that everyone I meet has the potential to be awesome, and I’d love it if my experience helped just one other person make a new friend, too – even if it’s a single serving friend.

Because seriously, I think we all know that we geeks don’t all have boy parts, most of us don’t live in our parent’s basements, and our ages range from primary school to twilight years. We come in all shapes, sizes, colors, professions, and fandoms. We express our geek love in different ways, too. Some of us cosplay. Some write, some draw, and some sit on panels. And somehow, some of us don’t look like we “should,” and that surprises people. Some hot chicks have forgotten more about Star Wars than some nerdy guys ever knew, and not all grandmas make cookies in their spare time. Some make costumes. And that’s okay. We’re all okay. So go do your thing, sweet geeks, whatever it is. Just remember, you can’t tell if someone’s a geek just by looking. Do me a favor and dig a little deeper, will you? I have a feeling you’ll be rewarded if you do.

Oh, and for the love of Spock, put your shoes back in the right boxes after trying them on!

Laura McConnell