I work really hard to not be called a noob. And by "work really hard," I mean I sit in front of Wikipedia and read about every Robin incarnation in the history of comics but, you know, I don't actually buy Robin comic books. Not that I am above it; I just like to be able to picture who the fuck Nightwing is when my various friends are talking about something I'm not cool enough to understand. (Case in point: I had to look up Nightwing for a brief second because I kept thinking it was Darkwing.) Maybe I'd have more of an interest had I started young with the whole comic book thing. Perhaps it's like learning a foreign language where the younger you are the easier it is to absorb. My cousin is 6 and is already on her third language, so I bet if I gave her an X-Men comic she'd hold up better in a conversation than me by the end of the year.

Aquaman poster
"Bless you, my friend! You're on your own. Try not to drown."
Not that I'm totally out of my element either. I grew up watching Power Rangers and Mortal Kombat. I can recite Battlestar Galactica quotes. I played Mario and Zelda and Tekken. I still meet with a group of friends to battle monsters in Arkham Horror and, nowadays, I have the desire to settle Catan. I've painted orks with my dad and dominated Gauntlet Legends in arcades all across America so, yeah, I'm pretty fucking cool. Just don't ask me about a Marvel or DC superhero or villain because watching drool travel down my chin is gross. (Oddly enough, the same uncontrollable salivation happens whenever you put bacon in front of me.)

My parents didn't get me an inflatable light saber for my 25th birthday for nothing.So, what's a girl to do? Change the subject. I unabashedly and almost always change the subject from whatever I'm not understanding to Star Wars. Or Harry Potter. Or the Civil War. But, mostly, Star Wars. We all have our go-tos. My sister, for example, may draw a blank whenever anyone talks about math or whenever I talk about Star Wars, but she'll be quick to tell you the proper way to embalm a body and what it feels like to remove a man's heart from his chest during an autopsy. (Seriously, she goes to school for that.) You wanna talk shop about the Batmobile? Pfft. Two words: Millenium Falcon. I mean, it did make the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs, bro. Lex Luthor is the greatest villain of all time? Umm, have you even seen Darth Vader? ‘Nough said. Basically, if Nick Cannon had approached me to be a mouthy zinger on Wild ‘n Out, I'd be slinging yo' momma jokes left and right involving Jar Jar Binks, C3PO, and Jabba the Hutt. And, honestly, what's more fun than a competitive nerd ready to throw down?

Lots of things, apparently.

A few years ago I was in Seattle, rounding out my vacation with a weekend in the city. I was staying at a hotel just up the street from the convention center and, to my surprise, my visit happened to coincide with Sakura-Con, Seattle's annual anime convention. I had never heard of Sakura-Con before, so I was happy to chat up convention-goers as I ate my continental breakfast. Over coffee and bagels, I listened as a wizard and what I can only describe as mini Chuck Norris talked about the who's who of Sakura-Con that year: Kotono Mitsuishi! DJ Blade! They gushed about whose autograph they wanted and talked animatedly about a dance later that night.

Sakura-Con comics convention
At least there were some familiar faces at Sakura-Con.

"Does anyone dress up like Sailor Moon?" I figured it was better than asking if someone dressed up like Charmander or Pikachu given my very limited brain function when it came to anime. And, the only girls I had seen wandering around the convention center were dressed up as what I assumed to be S&M fetish hookers.

Both the wizard and mini Chuck Norris snickered. Mini Chuck Norris chirped sarcastically, "Yeah, maybe if it were 10 years ago." They even high-fived.

I was a tad put off. Didn't practitioners of karate typically remain cool and collected? And, wasn't the art of karate supposed to be about striking your opponent only if they strike first? I was asking a simple question trying to gather information about their convention, and a 13-year-old Chuck Norris basically roundhouse kicked my face before going back to his fruit bowl and orange juice.

I was afraid that I might break something or violate some nerd code if I bought the wrong thing. "Luke Skywalker at least remembers his Jedi training, unlike you." Okay, so, I decided to be 13 right back as I finished off my complimentary breakfast and bid them farewell. It's not like I told the kid to get bent. Well, at least not outright, but my parents didn't get me an inflatable light saber for my 25th birthday for nothing.

I'm fortunate enough to say that has probably been my only negative experience within this culture. Though I may be quick to mouth off about how Aquaman is a bitch, it is the equivalent of trash talking any team that comes up against the Jayhawks during basketball season. Just recently I had my very first comic book store experience and it couldn't have been nicer. An old friend visits Legends Comics in Omaha every Wednesday for new issues. Turns out, I live a few blocks from Legends, so I waltzed in one Wednesday morning to meet him.

These guys can smell fresh meat, and I mean that in a good way. The dudes behind the counter were quick to greet me with a smile and an offer to show me around. I learned where to find back issues, local stuff, indie comics, and to stand in awe of the many collections of Superman towering above my head. I even found a Battlestar Galactica board game in which I immediately wanted to rip off the plastic sheath and kick some Cylon ass. I didn't buy anything for my first visit, rather I took my time and looked at the various titles and covers and thumbed through back issues of Spider-Man and The Flash. There was so much to take in, and I was afraid that I might break something or violate some nerd code if I bought the wrong thing.

I've always been kind of submerged in this culture. My dad and my brothers are avid gamers. My best friend can basically function as a trekker and really digs Smallville. I get schooled on manga and anime daily by my senior prom date. I may not be up to date on the comics universe, but that hasn't stopped me from creating a comic with my brother about our family surviving a zombie apocalypse, nor has it waned my desire to be revered on a panel at Comic Con. But I can't help but feel a little bit like an imposter. Some days, I'm like the Milli Vanilli of geekdom.

The saving grace behind my incapability to spout off plot lines of Crisis of Infinite Earths or to recite every actress behind Catwoman is The Big Bang Theory. Created in ‘07, this show is like my translator. Not only did it talk about stuff that I've always had an interest in (physics), but it also helped reverse my profound lack of ability to comprehend and absorb comics naturally. I'd never be a sweet, smooth-talking, sexy dork like Brody from Mallrats, but at least with Sheldon Cooper I could kind of jump in now and then.