Geeks on a Boat

Belonging is not a feeling I’m intimately familiar with. In an average social situation, I often feel like an anthropologist watching a foreign culture in action, absorbing what’s going on and seeking tribal acceptance by copying their ways. This explains my Backstreet Boys phase. Unfortunately, I’m a lousy anthropologist and often find myself up to my neck in a metaphorical pot of water being boiled for dinner after I say something stupid.

I’m a geek. I fought it for a long time, because it’s not exactly a label that gets you many friends in school. I was a teacher’s pet, my brain full of trivia and my nose always in a book. I once invented homework so my parents would let me stay up later. I got a tattoo when I was nineteen, and my mother’s reaction was “it’s about time you do something stupid”. I’m not claiming to be a genius – far from it. But I like knowing things. And then knowing those things makes me want to know more things about other things connected to those things.

Last week, I went on an adventure. I spent a week on a cruise ship in the Caribbean with my husband. But we weren’t alone. Well, of course not – we didn’t charter the ship for ourselves. What I mean to say is, this was a special cruise. It was JoCo Cruise Crazy II, a week-long event featuring a bunch of great performers and activities… for geeks.

I had my reservations about going on this trip. My husband was totally psyched about it, but while I was a fan of many of the talented people listed as performers for the cruise, I’m not a beachy, cruisy person by nature, and I worried I would be bored, trapped on a boat for a week. But it meant a lot to him, so I figured it was worth a shot, and he’d owe me the vacation of my choice next year.

Well, next year I want to go back on this cruise. Not so much for the beaches – I’m pretty sure I just quadrupled my shot at melanoma with that sunburn – and not for the shows, as amazing as they were. The people I met on this cruise were so incredibly great. Wil Wheaton, one of the performers, commented on how great it was to be surrounded by so many geeks of different kinds, and reminded us what it means to be a geek: to be really into something, to want to know everything about it, and to want to share it with everyone because you think it’s so neat. Whether it’s gaming, math, computers, medicine, or anime, everyone on that ship was a geek of some stripe, and since we all had that in common, nobody felt like an anthropologist watching the natives and their strange customs.

The best events on the cruise were the ones the performers were only tangentially involved with. Karaoke nights, open mic night, games of every kind happening all over the ship, a ukulele flash mob, and more events than I could have possibly attended even if I’d cloned myself. Several people said they’d go on this cruise again without the Famous People (TM), and I’m inclined to agree. They and their performances were really fantastic, and I’ll tell you more about them soon, but the feeling of geek summer camp for grownups (on a boat) really affected a lot of us, and I hope we’ll stay in touch and not lose that. We belonged on that ship. What a great feeling.

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