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How I Learned to Stop Whining and Love the Bombadil

It has been a red letter couple of months for me, nerdiness-wise.

(Or I supposed geekiness-wise? I appreciate that there is a distinction between a geek and a nerd; people are always trying to tell me I’m more geek than nerd, but I genuinely deep down in the very depths of my soul believe that I am more nerd than geek…but probably irrelevant…I’m using the word nerd today)

As an example of how I have been growing in nerdiness lately, I finally started watching Doctor Who a couple months ago. What kind of nerd-geek was I, having never watched an episode of Doctor Who?!? Now I am all obsessed with Daleks and I got a fez for Christmas.

A more recent example (and I think an even bigger step in the right nerdiness direction) is this:

I finally read The Lord of the Rings!

I know what you’re saying – Nicolette, you hadn’t read LOTR before? But…you love to read! You love to read really nerdy things! You love to read books before they become movies!

All of these things are true, typically, but I have a bit of a history with the Lord of the Rings books.

See, I read the Hobbit in the summer between middle and high school. I loved it. No reservations, no doubts in my mind – this book was awesome. So I went to the local library and checked out Fellowship of the Ring, and Two Towers, and Return of the King.

But then something happened, and I didn’t even start on Fellowship. What that something was, I cannot quite pinpoint. It probably had something to do with the fact that it was summer time and I was about to start high school, and my idea of a good idea was to wear short shorts to car wash fundraisers and hope that boys would notice me.

(They didn’t.)

High school passed, and I never made another attempt at the series. I regret this, since I am sure that age 13 was exactly the right time for me to read these books. The entire course of my life might have changed!

Then the first movie came out during my first semester of college. I opted to see the movie before reading the book, because who has time during finals to sit around reading a Tolkien novel? I had a 15 page paper to write about the symbolism of clothing in the novel Gone With the Wind (which is like a thousand page book on its own, anyway) so I just went to see the movie anyway.

I loved it. And not just because I love Viggo Mortensen and Orlando Bloom (OH! How 18 year old me swooned for Legolas!), but because, quite frankly, I am and always have been the kind of person who loves things like Lord of the Rings.

I decided to try the books again, vaguely annoyed with my 13 year old self for having returned the books to the library unopened all those years ago.

It went alright…until I got to Tom Bombadil.

That Tom Bombadil was a brick effing wall for me. I couldn’t get past that bit somehow and in my imagination, he grew to be 75 pages long and dreadfully boring. I kept putting reading off, because I just could not stand the awful Tom Bombadil.

Then I ran out of school vacation and put Lord of the Rings aside.

Though I continued to enjoy the movies, I made no further attempts to read the books.

Until this December!

Christmas 2010: my sister got me a Doctor Who “Are You My Mummy?” gas mask bumper sticker. She wrapped it up in a box, into which she also put a bunch of random books from her bookshelf to give the gift some weight.

When I opened it, I was delighted with the actual gift, but possibly just as exciting were her used copies of Fellowship of the Ring and Two Towers that came inside the box.

Immediately I decided to try reading them again, in part because I was stuck at my parents an extra night due to a snow storm and in part because it just seemed like a good idea. This would be the right time, I was sure.

And boy was it ever!

For starters, it turns out that Tom Bombadil, though not my favorite character by any means, is only present for like a single, perfectly manageably-lengthed chapter. Furthermore, he is actually quite pleasant and helpful. His part went quickly and I could not believe I allowed myself to be stopped by him during my previous attempt. I must have been on crack.

(I wasn’t.)

Another thing – I sort of thought the books would be boring. Like, sure the story is good, but I already knew the story from watching the movies. Before I started reading I was all, “Man, Tolkien – that’s a lot of details…” And it is – lots of details and sure, I skimmed some of the longer songs and I zoned out a bit during the long genealogical list-type paragraphs.

But they were NOT boring. I don’t know if all you nerds and geek and whatnots out there have heard about this yet – but turns out Lord of the Rings are like really, really good.

They were exciting and fun and super entertaining and I spent several long days at work thinking, “Man, Tolkien- why ain’t I reading your book right now?”

Plus- Hobbits! Hobbits are amaaaaaaazing in the books. I feel like the movies failed spectacularly in their portrayal of all the hobbits (particularly Merry and Pippin) because they were seriously among my most favorite aspects of the whole series. Any time they popped back into the narrative I was like, “YES!!! HOBBIT TIME!” In the movies I was all, “Meh, Hobbits… When’s Legolas going to fly onto a horse again? That was hot.”

I finished about a week ago now, and I have been floating around in a bit of a LOTR-less malaise. I have since watched the first two movies, providing fabulous narration for my sister. It went something like, “Did you know that in the BOOK Farmer Maggot has them in for dinner?” and “Did you know in the BOOK that Faramir DOESN’T try to take the ring?”

She really enjoyed it, I could tell.

So now that I can file this whole Lord of the Rings things under my “Classic Nerd Accomplishments” column right under Doctor Who, I am looking to fill it with some more stuff.

But what?

Do I go old-school fantasy novel style and read some Anne McCaffrey novels, since I love literature for young people so much? Do I feed the Doctor Who love and watch as much Doctors 1-8 as I can get my hands on (since I probably can’t technically file the Doctor in my column yet without them anyway)? Or do I go for Torchwood? Or other Nerd TV: BSG or Stargate or even Star Trek?!? My Trekker muscles are woefully underdeveloped.

OR I could go full nerd throttle – I’m talking LARP-ing or SteamPunk World’s Fair or something else involving elaborate costuming and assumed identities.

Oh, the choices! I am open to suggestions, since for me I think this winter the annual battle against Seasonal Affective Disorder is going to be fought on the field of Nerdy Entertainment.

And so, I leave you with this:

Ná Elbereth veria le, ná elenath dín síla erin rád o chuil lín.

(If the online Elvish phrasebook I used is correct, that means: May Elbereth protect you, may her stars shine on the path of your life…which is of course how I always say goodbye now.)

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