Fandom tends to be seen as an inherently male interest. We have so many cultural stereotypes enhancing this belief. From The Big Bang Theory to “the fake gamer girl,” nerdiness always seems to start as something male, and then move towards women. For a while, this was pretty accurate. In 2010, only 35% of New York Comic Con attendees were women. However, as time goes on, these men get married. They have kids, and they pass on their nerdy genes.
With that in mind, I asked my fellow writers if they had inherited any of their geekiness from their fathers, or for any good stories about how their fathers inspired them towards the nerd community. Here are the responses I got:
The biggest way my father supported my nerdy side was through books. When I was little, my father would read aloud to me and my sister every night, often choosing fantasy works like Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or Harry Potter. I still remember the great green armchair where we first experienced J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world, my sister and I perched on either arm, looking over my father’s shoulder as he read.
As HP was my first fandom, I really have my father to thank for introducing me to the geek life. Later, as I grew up and read through books at an alarming speed, prowling through the house for any unread tomes to sate my thirst for words, my dad bestowed upon me a collection of sci-fi and fantasy works from his own teenage years. Among them were deliciously yellowed copies of The Lord of the Rings (the index of which started me on my journey as a language nerd and linguistics major), numerous works of Isaac Asimov, the Shannara trilogy (the TV show of which we watched together this winter), and Dune (which I have yet to read, but which I included on my list of sci-fi classics).
Now that I am an adult, we no longer read together, but we do watch TV as a family. My father has enthusiastically matched my growing interest in the superhero universes, spending evenings on the couch with me catching up on Agent Carter, Gotham, or the Marvel movies. We can only regret that my grandmother threw away all his old comics before he had the chance to pass them on to me. I want to thank my dad for sparking my interest in some of the nerdiest genres, bringing home some strange book about a wizard named Harry because a coworker recommended it, and most of all, for always supporting me in all of my interests and passions. Thank you, Daddy. Happy Father’s Day.
Carly previously wrote about her and her father’s shared love of books here.
My father has supported me no matter what I wanted to do in life. However, his contribution to my nerdy side has always been a huge impact for me. My dad was the first person to grant me my very own handheld gaming mechanism: the Game Boy Color. Yeah, I had the Nintendo 64 but I had to share that with my brother and constantly beg for time so I could enjoy some Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. However, the Game Boy Color was honestly the first step of many in my gaming journey and the moment I fell in love with being an independent gamer. From that point on, my dad would get me and my brother a new game every year for our birthdays and for Christmas, even if we got a new gaming console. I can still remember some of my favorite childhood games including any Pokémon game, Alice in Wonderland, Hamtaro Ham-Hams Unite!, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Oracle of Seasons, and so many more.
I still think back to the days where my dad would play his video games, and I would be right next to him with my Game Boy Color. I knew he understood my love for gaming because he had found a way to immerse himself in that world before I had. I’m thankful that he believed I could be a gamer, too. Even as an adult I’ve kept my older gaming systems, and gained new ones as well. I still like to take out my Nintendo 64, GameCube, etc., and end my days with adventure after adventure.
Another big way my dad impacted my nerdy side was by letting me and my brother stay up late to watch Toonami. This is where my absolute love for anime was founded. He would stay up with us just so we could watch anime like Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, Yu Yu Hakusho, Rurouni Kenshin, and most importantly Naruto. Growing up where I did, not a lot of my friends liked, or knew about, anime and most of them thought it was weird once I showed them. However, I never felt judged watching and talking about it with my dad, because he thought it was just as amazing as I did. I know a lot of parents that would criticize my dad for letting me watch such “violent” or maybe even controversial TV shows at such a young age. However, what my dad did was bond with me over something no one else I knew understood. He could understand how anime was so different from the run of the mill kid’s TV program. How anime made me feel like I wanted to jump into the television and be in all of their worlds, even if it was just for a second. I still reminisce with my dad about the anime shows we use to watch together, and I keep him updated on Naruto still, even though he stopped watching once it wasn’t in English anymore. I’ll never forget those nights where we would root for the good guys and hope they’d crush the villains. Thank you dad, I couldn’t be more proud of having a nerdy dad like you.
Kayla and Deanna Farber
Kayla: The story I heard more than any other story throughout my childhood was the story of the time my parents took me to a Star Trek convention at a very young age, let’s say three years old. They were at an auction, and I apparently bid on a very expensive jacket worn by one of the actors. Luckily, someone had a higher bid, but from that moment on, my parents knew just how much trouble I’d be. A year or so later, at another Star Trek convention, my little sister was on her way, and my parents, and their friends were trying to think of names. Enter Deanna.
Our father’s love for science fiction extended beyond just Star Trek. He loves Star Wars, The 5th Element, any superhero movie (DC and Marvel equally), The X-Files, The Twilight Zone, and anything else he could find on TV. Though he was not really a reader, we could always find our dad watching something, and if it wasn’t hockey, it was sci-fi or fantasy. Without him, we never would have discovered Buffy or Star Wars. As adults, Kayla is always game for a The 5th Element (Multipass?) or Twilight Zone marathon and Deanna is always pumped to be home on a Tuesday night for The Flash. We try to see every superhero movie we can together, at its earliest release.
Our dad’s other love, which we both inherited, is musical theater. In fact, as his Father’s Day gift this year, he’s getting tickets to She Loves Me. His favorite show is Les Miserables, which we heard in the car (on tape) growing up. Both of us knew all the words before we started kindergarten, and the rule was we had to be able to tell him the story before he would take us to see it. Our mutual love for the show has not changed, and the fact that we’d see Les Mis as many times as he’ll take us is a fact that drives our mother crazy. For Hanukah and Christmas, when most kids were getting Furbies, we got tickets to Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, and so many other Broadway shows. As we continued to grow, our father’s love of theater inspired us to get involved in it. Deanna, as an actor on the stage, and Kayla, as a behind the scenes techie. His love of theater knows no boundaries. While he loves the classics and ensemble pieces, that didn’t stop him from taking Kayla to see Rent “a few” times when she was in high school, or taking Deanna to see Legally Blonde twice. He seems to just love being at the theater, no matter what show is being performed.
Our love in reading is something we inherited from our mother, and our dad is not a reader by nature. Growing up he read to us when we asked him to, but he is now starting to read for himself (by read we mean listen to audiobooks). It’s this cool, new, uncharted territory, because while we’ve shared book series with our mom, he’s never been part of the conversation. Now he’s reading (and loving) Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, anything by Maggie Stiefvater and Ally Carter, Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files, and so many more books. We even convinced him to read the Twilight series (and he didn’t hate them!).
Cut to present day. Our dad is currently working two jobs, and we’re introducing him to his new loves. From Scott Pilgrim to Ally Carter’s novels, we’re able to find really cool new worlds for him to love. Our dad loves stories passionately, in any form, but more than that, he loves sharing them with us. He’s introduced us to so many worlds to love, and helped us see the beauty in our own world. So thank you, Stu-boo, for sharing your passions with us.
While it may not be geeky, my dad taught me how to be a good person. He has always been the first to help others, volunteer frequently, and generally be a good community member.
My dad introduced me to Appalachia Service Project when I was 15 where we traveled to help people fix up their homes to be warmer, safer, and dryer. I’m lucky for this experience because I got to see my dad help others and I learned how to volunteer, be a leader, and be a part of a team trying to help others.
These trips taught me how to be a good person, make a difference, and ultimately shaped me into an adult seeking opportunities to help others. I’m so lucky for my dad being such an influence on my life and being my role model.
I love you dad. (Bruce Kilgallon)
We hope that sharing our Father’s Day stories with you brings you joyful memories of growing up with a geeky dad. We’d love it if you’d share your stories with us in the comments!
And Happy Father’s Day to all the geeky dads who inspire us to be passionate, nerdy women!