You remember the insults that strike home. I never remember anybody telling me I was slow, or unathletic or clumsy. I was all of these things, but they didnít matter to me. I do remember Charles ĎChuckí Chung, though. Chuck was a sometimes-bully, sometimes-defender who I grew up with. In about grade six, I remember him razzing me about being a nerd. ĎWhy donít you haul that computer outside into the sunlight?í
That comment stayed with me. Why? Because deep down I knew he was right. I was spending too much time with the computer, and not enough time out in the world. Because I knew, even at that point that my early geekdom meant a difficult adolescence. In truth, my teenage years were pretty trauma free, and by grade 12 I had eclipsed my nerdiness. My high school was distinctly upper-middle class, so everyone recognized that sooner or later, the smart would inherit the earth.
Iím writing this on 15 inches of glorious titanium from a park bench on the Vancouver seawall in the dying light of a beautiful summer evening. The gulls cry overhead. I glance up and see boats jockeying for position for tonightís fireworks. Chuck, I have indeed lugged my computer into the sun, and itís a good thing. Yours was sound advice.
In adulthood, Iíve always suspected that Charles, with his penchant for tight demin and pseudo-cruelty, was gay. I havenít heard from him in years, but Iíd be pleased to learn that he was, say, running a cupcake shop in the West End.