When I see a nerd walking down the street, I cross to the other side. I’d rather die than go into a nerd bar. Nerds are perverted. Nerds are abominations. If my son ever talks to me in a nerd voice, I’ll stab him. Nerds make me sick.
Sadly, these hateful words are all too common in our nerdaphobic society. What’s more is that these words were once my own. As a jock, I long thought it my duty to give nerds a hard time. I thought Jocks v. Nerds was just the natural order of things, and I considered myself lucky to have been born on the right side of the fence, i.e. broad, swift, Midwestern, tall, and flaxen haired. I didn’t curb my bigotry at passive thankfulness, however. For years I made it a point to actively torment nerds, to scream “Neeeeerrrrd!” at any nerd within yelling distance, and if he were close enough, to punch the poor nerdlinger in the gut.
Despite my efforts, the nerd world kept on turning. Each year, new first person video games arrived on the market, new LARP battles broiled, and new 800 page paperbacks arrived in the nerdy hands of teenage boys across the country. In short, nerds still had their fantasies and thrived as a result. Fantasy is nerd lifeblood, nerd manna. To nerds, fantasy is The Force.
Each day a new nerd is born, there’s no doubt about it, but except for a few notable exceptions nerd fantasy has stayed well out of the mainstream. I could’ve avoided it if I wanted to.
If I wanted to.
I was secretly fascinated by nerds. I’d often catch myself staring at the noodly arms of a nerd a few seats down from me on the bus. Sometimes, I’d blast Led Zepplin not to rock out, but to uncover the Lord of the Rings references. Late nights and in the privacy of my studio casita, I’d troll internet nerd discussion boards.
And just this last Monday while enjoying my summer vacation holed up in my brother’s apartment, I came across HBO’s Game of Thrones on his On Demand. I love HBO. Shows like The Wire, Sopranos, and Six Feet Under have long been go to time passers for me. The dirty realism of these shows moves a jock, makes a jock feel feelings. So I started watching Game of Thrones, completing the show’s first season in less than a week.
And thus, Game of Thrones, a show set in an imaginary, far off, medieval-ish land filled with kings, knights, dragons, wenches, racially ambiguous (but brown) warriors and ladies faire became my Fantasy wide stance.
The following chart compares some of GOT’s main characters with those of more socially acceptable television shows. Through this and other rationalizations, I’ve come to accept myself as a nerd because, really, fantasy is nothing more than realism with a little magik to fill in some plot holes. And nerds are nothing more than smart, greasy jocks.
Jon Snow is Don Draper. The brooding bastard with something to prove.
Joffrey Baratheon is AJ Soprano. The sniveling, entitled heir that should not/will not be allowed anywhere near the throne. Once Joffrey can grow a weak ‘stache, he will.
Lady Catelyn Stark is Ruth Fisher. The melancholy matriarch who must turn a blind eye to her husband’s other lives.
Tyrion Lannister is Jimmy McNulty. The manipulative outsider with a penchant for booze, women, and being right.
Viserys Targaryen is Pete Campbell. The entitled and corrupt ladder climber.
Arya Stark is Snoop. The genderqueer assassin.
Robert Baratheon is Tony Soprano. The portly, impulsive, alcoholic king.
Khal Drogo is Omar Little. The much feared killer…with a heart of gold.
Lord Petyr Baelish aka “Littlefinger” is Tommy Carcetti. Because HBO recycles actors.
Nancy Powaga is a fiction student in the University of Arizona’s MFA Program in Creative Writing. She also teaches and is editor-in-chief of Sonora Review.