Sunday, September 14, 2008

My Life with Geeks and Fanatics

I grew up in a geeky family. My dad was a scientist, an introvert, an intellectual. My mom always said it's a good thing they didn't have any boys because our dad wasn't the type to throw a ball in the back yard. In fact, they had four girls, and I was (still am) the oldest. My dad had zero interest in sports. He didn't read the sports page. He didn't listen to games on the radio. He didn't watch it on T.V. In fact, when ESPN was invented, he blocked it with parental controls because he didn't want any of our boyfriends coming in and turning it on. We spent Sundays listening to classical music and opera on the radio.

He instilled in my sisters and me a total indifference to sports. He didn't care if we got passing grades in P.E. He wrote notes to the P.E. teacher to get us out of class whenever we asked him to. I was the one who could never climb the rope, could never do a cartwheel to save my life. Also, these were the days before Title Nine, so there really wasn't any sports for girls anyway. The only activities that could remotely qualify as sports that my dad participated in were bowling and boomerang throwing. One year, my mom tried to encourage him to take up golf and gave him a putter for Christmas. It sat by the fireplace for the rest of his years, he used it as a poker for the fire.

He did read to us, though... man, did he read to us. Everything under the sun that was suitable for kids. When I was six months old, he bought a set of children's classics and read those to me and my sisters for years. I remember a favorite of his was "The Wind in the Willows" and he made us laugh when he read it. He also taught us to play chess and black jack and a game called "three five seven" in which the idea was to make the other person pick up the last marble or penny, or whatever.

Of course, I eventually began meeting boys who were interested in sports. Most boys seemed downright obsessed with sports, given what I was used to. I never really dated a "jock" though. I preferred the boys in the band (the marching band) and the guys who worked in the science lab. I was born and bred a geek. One of my sisters became a doctor, one became a computer genius, and one became a language teacher. We all pretty much followed our geek heritage. Family gatherings always involved conversations about esoteric matters and debates about our unending theories of the universe, etc, etc.

So why did I marry into a family of jocks? I swear, I will never know. My husband was the quarterback in high school. His dad was the coach. His mom taught P.E. His brother and sister are avid sports fans. All their friends are sports fans. They all lived in Michigan. That meant they LOVE Michigan and HATE Ohio State. Well, I come from Ohio... but I never even thought about Ohio State football. It was a big deal when he first took me to Michigan to meet his family. It happened to be a weekend of the big Michigan vs. Ohio State football game. We drove up to his mom's house which was festooned with a big University of Michigan flag. The whole gang was there, everyone dressed in Michigan and "Go Blue!" clothing. Well, of course, when they asked me where I was from I innocently said "Ohio". What did I know? I had always been proud to be from Ohio. After all, we were the home of eight U.S. Presidents (I found out later they weren't all that great, but that's another story). Oh my God, did I get a lot of grief from that group! Boos and hisses! It was all in fun (I guess) but geeky little me was not prepared for it. I tried to explain I had no affinity for Ohio State football but they didn't care. Well, I was pretty gun-shy for a long time about visiting my soon-to-be in-laws in Michigan. (It turns out that they were the nicest in-laws anyone could ever have, but I didn't realize it that weekend.)

Well, it hasn't worked out too bad in the end. I like my in-laws. They are funny and kind and down-to-earth good people. We have been married for twenty-five years now. But we still have a geek/fan divide in our house. My husband is downstairs watching football. I am upstairs writing on the computer, while PBS plays in the background. It's funny how these things work out. He just laughs at my geeky relatives and I just laugh at his sports-crazed relatives and we all get along fine.


pierre l said...

Hello Judy. Thank you for the kind comment you left at Susan's about the list of blogs that I frequent. I have never kept a blog myself, but I do enjoy writing comments (and I always abstain rather than writing nasty comments - that seems so pointless).
There are actually a lot more blogs in my blogroll; when I started using the Blooger "following" facilty, i told it to move all 200 blogs on my list; it took the first 24 or so, all As and Bs, then stopped, so I am adding other by hand. :-( (you have been added, by the way).
I notice you have been to Hawaii recently - you might enjoy
She made the shortlist for the Orange (a UK cell phone company) l:iterary Prize and came to the UK (that's when I discovered her).
Finally, and the real reason for my off-topic comment, I hear reports of nasty waether in Kentucky - I hope you are OK.

judy in ky said...

Hello Pierre, it's good to hear from you. We did indeed have some nasty weather yesterday. It got a bit windy in the afternoon.... the tail end of Ike I think. We actually had hurricane force gusts, lots of trees and power lines down and a few roofs damaged. At my house we were lucky; only minor damage and we didn't lose power. Thankfully, we are fine.
I am going to check out pkwood.blogspot... thanks for the tip!

Bearette24 said...

It's probably a complementary thing. If you had been really into sports, you might have married into a non-sporting family.

Pam said...

I met my husband while we were students at university, but my family (fathers more so) were working class, liked a drink or two and a risque joke. My husband's family were regular tea-totalling church goers, and his father a lecturer in civil engineering and assistant to the dean at a different university.Classical music always at home, and no television.My in-laws excelled in card games (no gambling of course!) I hate card games.I remember at a pre-wedding family gathering my father asking an in-law relative where he worked. "At Weapons Research" answered the man. "Oh" said Dad "In the stores?" "No" replied in-law, "as a scientist".My Dad was a purchasing officer in stores for nuts and bolts, who never went to high school.We managed the blend. My husband's family always thought the world of me as does my husband, but husband stills shudders from left-over Geekdom when I try to play Edith Piaf. "Arghhh" he cries" reminds me of Dad's music every Sunday in Clara Street!!!" The sport bit is funny too, with similarities to my father in law. I always wondered how he kept his leather shoes so immaculate."Because his feet don't do the yards and frantic running around the rest of us have to" said my mother in law. Loved this post. So much!!!