Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"F is for fusion, "G" is for grammar, and all rolled up, they make up my comfort zone. Bazinga.

Jim Parsons, the actor who plays Sheldon  Cooper, rolling his tongue. I cannot do this. It's genetic.

"F" is for fusion, and "G" is for grammar. But this post really isn't about either.

It's about The Big Bang Theory. If you watch the show, you know it's about scientists. So while it's a stretch, "fusion" makes sense. As does "grammar," as it's around this area of my life that I tend to resemble one of the main characters.

When it comes to The Big Bang Theory, I came late to the party, beginning to watch only a few months ago. During the height of my freelancing, I was gone most evenings, so TV wasn't a huge part of my life. But when things became a little calmer and I started spending more time at home, I found myself flipping channels every now and again.

"You HAVE to watch this show," my husband said. And my stepson added, "There's this character, Sheldon, and you're just like him."

I wouldn't say I'm JUST like Sheldon Cooper,  but there are similarities. People who have spent any time with me could tell you I like to be right, and I've even been told that I'm -- ahem -- a little obnoxious about areas in which I have a little expertise, grammar being one of them.  I make my living partly on knowing how to use grammar, and although I love social media, I mourn what it's done to the King's English.

But I digress.

The Big Bang Theory appeals to me for other reasons, with most of those revolving around Sheldon Cooper as well. As the only girl in my entire Catholic grade school who didn't have a mom, I felt different, and as a result, I isolated myself to some degree.  I had friends, but truth be told, I preferred my books and my tablets and my own thoughts. I was taller and wore glasses and had a stammer that came to the forefront when I had to speak in front of the class.  I had a touch of OCD that manifested itself in terms of repetitive "checking" -- door locks. Stove knobs. Faucets. (Still have that one. Yep, I'm a ball of fun.)

Needless to say, in those days, I didn't feel pretty or funny or ever quite "good" enough socially. Ah, but I was smart, and I say that not to boast but to tell you that my formative years were not all Sylvia Plath-meets-Mean-Girls.

I was this girl: I earned perfect scores on my ITBS every year. If someone organized a spelling bee, I won it. Yes, I was a tad obnoxious, a la Sheldon, but some good things were forming in my character: I escaped into some great books and was bolstered by a few good teachers who saw my potential. I started keeping journals, some of which evolved into my first work on my high-school newspaper.

I was not a genius, but I was most comfortable in the space made possible by a good, strong brain. And when the glasses gave way to contacts and the braces came off and I stopped growing so everyone else could pass me up, the brain was still there. And it never forgot those challenging years, so I like to think perhaps it allowed my empathy to evolve to make up for the times I was so hard on myself.

The guys on Big Bang Theory are the male versions of the person I remember being. They're much smarter, but they're flummoxed by Halloween parties and malls and anything requiring a clear understanding of the nuances of emotional interaction. They have their white boards.  I had my books and my notebooks.

Just as I evolved, those characters are evolving, too. But every time they eschew a night out for a Halo marathon, I see myself.  As I watch from the outside in, I wish I could have regarded my brain for all the great things it gave me instead of wishing I could have traded it for Olivia Newton-John's bangs and Marcia Brady's cute cheerleading outfits.

As crazy as this sounds, Big Bang Theory is my comfort zone, and it allows me to laugh at myself.  Some could say it makes nerds cool; I'm not sure I agree.  But it humanizes them and makes them relatable to the cool kids, and from time to time, it also redefines the memories of an awkward girl, taking her strangeness and making it perhaps not so strange in the eyes of the sitcom-watching universe.

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