A few days ago, I was at my local gym, fooling myself into believing that I was really pushing it on the treadmill while watching an episode of “The Verminators” on the little treadmill TV. (The guy who combined TV and exercise should really get a Nobel Prize.) Anyway, during a commercial break, my paradoxically short attention span caused me to start looking aimlessly around the gym when I noticed a guy working out in a Star Trek shirt. There was no mistaking it – the blue shirt – black collar – the Federation symbol displayed proudly over the heart. Majestic is its own sort of way.
Now, one would not be wrong to argue that the real story here is the fact that I was actually in a gym. Normally I would agree, but this is a special story – a story about how far we have come in America. And it’s a story about America’s redemption and how we have come to finally embrace our past.
You see, not all that long ago, anyone caught wearing a Star Trek uniform within a hundred yards of a gym would find themselves walking home with an Atomic Wedgie. The irony here is that at one point in time, America itself was the little nerd – at least on a global sense. The British with their powder wigs, ruffle shirts, and big buckle shoes were the cool guys. They got off on pushing us around and making fun of our coonskin caps and silly accents. In fact, most people don’t realize that the movie “Revenge of the Nerds” is actually an allegorical recounting of the American Revolution. The Nerds represent the Americans with the Alpha Betas as the British, the Omega Mu’s as the Hessians and Lamar as the French. And just like in the movie, America stood up to the big bully British and took over the Greek Council. But unlike the movie, we didn’t embrace ourselves as nerds. We were embarrassed and ashamed so we bulked ourselves up, got addicted to processed meats, and became the world’s big man on campus.
But that has started to change. Just as we have made progress in terms of sexism, racism, and a wide range of other hang-ups, we have also made progress in the acceptance of our Nerdism. The evidence of this change can be seen everywhere around us. On television the SyFy Channel blares out Dr. Who and Battlestar Galactica 24 hours a day. And even old stodgy CBS has a series called “The Big Bang Theory” that centers on the lives and dreams of a group of nerds. (This show truly is the “Will & Grace” of the nerd revolution.) At the movies we have sequel after sequel of Harry Potter while the new Star Trek movie grossed almost 400 million dollars. Finally, if you need more proof – William Shatner has become some type of neo-hipster.
So, all of this brings me back to that brave guy at the gym in the Star Trek shirt. There he was, lifting weights and sporting a healthy cardiovascular system, and most importantly, not being judged. As my attention span waned yet again, and I went back to watching “The Verminators” tangle with some angry honeybees, I felt a renewed sense of pride in being an American. Sure, times may be tough now, but it’s going to be alright. Live Long and Prosper America.