“You’re such a nerd!”
My friends had informed me of this many times over the years. Not that I needed to be told. You tend to know. So when I started dating this guy, Chris, who described himself as “a massive nerd,” I thought, “Bring it on, man.”
Little did I know there were heights of nerd-dom in him of which I had not imagined.
So obviously, we got married. And a couple years later, to our mothers’ delight, we were expecting a baby. A few months in, I called a recess on name suggestions until we knew the sex, so Chris’s ceaseless barrage of truly bonkers monikers for our firstborn would then at least be cut in half.
Then one day he asked me to meet him for lunch. “I know we’re not talking about names right now, but I have the PERFECT name good for a boy or a girl! Are you ready for it? Ready? Narsil.”
With majesty, he waved his hands in the air as he whispered it. Reverently.
“Narsil?” I asked.
“You want to name our child after the sword that was broken and re-forged?”
I shook my head at him. Irritated, but I had to admire his nerve. “You would take such advantage of me if I weren’t a nerd too.”
Seven months later, we named our son Liam. A very normal name for what has turned out to be a delightfully strange little person. One day when Liam was 4, Chris said, “Hey, if we ever have another kid and it’s a boy, can we name him Miles?” I laughed. Parenting was hard. I wasn’t about to press the reset button. “Sure!” I said.
Well, to our mothers’ delight, a few years later, we had another child, and it was a boy. “You remember you promised we could name him Miles, right?”
I remembered. Luckily, I liked the name. And Chris obviously felt strongly about it.
Around that time, Chris started as head writer and supervising producer (with his partner Kevin Burke) on the Marvel Animation series, Avengers Assemble. He came home one day when Miles was several months old and said, “So you know we had that big meeting today with Marvel execs and Joe Quesada was there. I think he was impressed when I told him we named our son after Miles Morales.”
“WE NAMED OUR SON AFTER MILES MORALES!?”
I should have known. The pieces were all in front of me.
A couple years later, to our mothers’ surprise (and ours too) we found ourselves expecting again. A girl this time. After much debate, we finally settled on a name. Chris had been writing and producing for Ultimate Spider-Man, and brought the whole family to the season four wrap party when our baby was a few months old. He showed off his bundled little girl to his coworkers.
“This is Greer,” he told them.
“Aww,” they politely cooed.
“I almost convinced Laura to let me name her Gwen.”
“Spider-Gwen!” they all cried.
“SPIDER-GWEN!” I gasped. I had been so blind.
Co-parenting with a massive nerd is a journey not everybody gets to walk. In some ways, having children makes him look “normal” to onlookers. The toys in his car have a logical explanation now that there are regularly 3 children in it. (The smell of sour milk is new, but seems to be unavoidable, as it follows them like a Lovecraftian curse.)
The toys all over the house seem commonplace, but as a resident, I know they represent something special: Thousands of hours of fun with a father who gets on the floor and plays with the kids. Although, there have been times when the children have finally lost interest and walked off, and I’ve found Chris playing with the toys alone.
And there were always toys in his office, but they were in better condition before. Three-year-old Liam visited him at work one day and pointed to a pristine Batman figure still in its packaging hanging on the wall. “We should play with that!” I saw the agony in his dad’s eyes for a moment before he agreed and they tore it open. It seems Chris’s love of toys only needs the slightest nudge to devalue his action figure “investments.”
But even if being a dad may naturally obscure some of Chris’s nerdiness, it’s thriving and continues to touch all our lives. Because if there’s something I have learned about massive nerds, it is that they are passionate and they are fearless- because genuine, real-deal nerds won’t (or can’t) hide who they are. Which is refreshing in a world with more personas than people, and something I love our kids to see.
Chris recently wrote a comic, Alien Bones, about a boy named Liam, whose quest for family and help of quirky friends draws him into fantastic adventures in a futuristic world of interstellar paleontology. Chris brought home the advanced reader copy and handed it to our son.
As our creative and unconventional Liam, who is finding his own place in the world, devoured the trade paperback, filled with illustrations of the main character’s familiar mess of blonde hair and mischievous blue eyes, I was once again delighted for him to have a massive nerd for a father. There are more off-the-wall weirdos in the world because of this passionate, fearless man, and nothing could stop us from following him into adventure.
So, yeah, I married a massive nerd. And now I live in a house with action figures on the bookshelves, endless “long boxes” of comics crammed into almost every closet, and a Doctor Who scarf hung up across multiple hangers where actual clothes should go. But you know what, I wouldn’t change it for all the worlds in the multiverse.
Alien Bones is available now at finer
comic book stores, booksellers and e-tailers.