Nerds are a valuable staple of our twisted self-culture, serving as punching bags for the elite and as loveable underdogs for the downtrodden. Sometimes, these nerds manage to break free of their geek chains (which they will be quick to tell you are made from Adamantium) and overcome the odds. It is these nerds who we gather here today to celebrate. Sure, they might not be able to throw a tight spiral forty yards down the field and they need an asthma inhaler to get through, well… through anything really but in the end these nine nerds serve as an inspiration to nerdlings everywhere. Sure, maybe that writer from Gizmodo still won’t date you, but what the hell, someone out there will. After all, these nerds managed to find love -– or at least a whole lot of money, which from what I understand is a kind of love. So buck up nerds, take heart, and follow the examples of these nine trailblazing nerds.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
9 Chuck Bartowski
Chuck Bartowski’s a good looking guy. I’m secure enough in my sexuality to admit that. He’s tall, handsome, has a nice ass… too far? Anyway, even though he might not fit the physical profile of your stereotypical nerd, Chuck Bartowski’s not exactly Mr. Smooth. He’s most comfortable sitting around with his even dorkier friend, Morgan Grimes, playing video games and debating the minutiae that only a fanatical Star Wars geek can truly appreciate. But despite all that -– and thanks to a little help from a computer program uploaded into his brain… somehow –- Chuck manages to become both a world class spy and the love interest to a ridiculously hot blonde who knows how to kill a man 168 different ways. Cool job, hot girl by his side, the ability to kill bad guys using everything from Kung Fu to a paperclip –- yes, these qualify Chuck Bartowski as a nerd who, in the end, won.
8 Dennis Kucinich
Despite looking like a dude who should be ambushing unsuspecting travelers from his spot underneath a bridge in fairy tale after fairy tale, and despite the fact that the only ball he’s ever thrown is a fireball during one of his Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, Dennis Kucinich has managed to become not only a Congressman but an influential voice and leader of the American Left. But, honestly, his most noteworthy accomplishment –- and his most mindboggling considering, well, come on, just look at him -– was convincing that lady by his side in the picture there to not only talk to him but to marry him. I don’t know how he pulled it off –- some sort of special troll spell, claiming to have a pot of gold buried at the end of a rainbow somewhere, possessing a magic, uh, longsword -– but he did it, and that’s something no one can ever deny.
7 Lewis Skolnik
Perhaps the stereotypical nerd of the ‘80s, Lewis Skolnick spent most of his life stuck in a series of humiliating events along with his best buddy, the equally nerdy Gilbert Lowe. And after arriving on campus at Adams College, things went from bad to worse as Lewis was kicked out of his dorm, mercilessly harassed by a gang of heathen jocks, openly mocked by the girl of his dreams and forced to coexist with a gang of hopeless nerds who were even more pathetic than he was. So what’s he doing on this list? Well, Lewis Skolnick wasn’t about to take that shit lying down. He damn near lost his mind, staged a late night assault on a sorority house that probably should have gotten him tossed in prison for a while, terrorized the jocks who had harassed him and then boned his dream girl disguised as another dude in a moon room. (Helpful hint to nerds everywhere: don’t try this. Girls don’t really liked being pseudo-raped.) Somehow, this didn’t land him in prison for a long, long time but managed to convince everyone that nerds are okay after all and since his skills as a lover were deemed okay, his dream girl forgave his moon room assault and fell in love with him. Unlikely? Definitely. A tad offensive? Perhaps. But don’t tell Lewis Skolnick that. After all, he’ll get a gang of giant black fraternity brothers to show up and intimidate you by virtue of… of… I guess by virtue of being a gang of giant black dudes. (I know it was almost 30 years ago but how in the hell did Revenge of the Nerds ever get made?) You know what? On second thought, you’d probably be better off not following this particular example.
6 Ric Ocasek
Despite looking like a Muppet on heroin, Ric Ocasek managed to find success as the front man and guitar player for The Cars. And while that might not be a big deal all by itself -– I mean, it sort of seems like every other band from the ‘80s was fronted by a nerd, doesn’t it? –- what is a big deal is that this gawky looking weirdo, the son of a NASA computer analyst (How’s that for a nerd credential?) managed to stay relevant, first as a music producer and more impressively by somehow landing Paulina Porizkova, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue covergirl who launched a billion boners. Look, there are odd couples and then there is Ric Ocasek and Paulina Porizkova. They are the patron saints of odd couples. I mean, sure, he’s a rock star, but… come on. But take heart, nerds, if nothing else this proves that when girls say they value personality over looks, well, sometimes they aren’t just bullshitting you.
5 Gary Wallace and Wyatt Donnelly
Hopelessly nerdy, pals Gary Wallace and Wyatt Donnelly seemed doomed to a life of being harassed at school by bullies and terrorized at home by Wyatt’s older brother, Chet. But since they are nerds, and as we all know, nerds love them some computer hijinks, the two manage to use their computer skills to somehow create the perfect woman. (Don’t ask me how. I assume they used the same technology Chuck Bartowski used to download the Intersect into his brain.) This digital sex goddess instantly gives the nerds some social credibility and it isn’t long before they’re hanging out at blues clubs, hosting wild parties that damn near look like orgies, staring down mutant biker gangs, humiliating their bullies and, of course, winning the hearts of the two, real live human girls they lust after. You know, just like how it usually happens in real life.
4 Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network might as well have been the remake of Revenge of the Nerds. I mean, after all, the whole premise of the movie seemed to be that Mark Zuckerberg was sick of being just another programming nerd and decided cut a swath of destruction through his social world in route to building a castle made of money atop a giant mountain made of, well, money and the broken dreams of his friends/rivals. Of course, this was a fictionalized hyper-sensationalized depiction of the life of the real Mark Zuckerberg, who by various accounts seems to be neither vindictive nor status-obsessed. In fact, he’s just a genius who capitalized –- big time -– on an idea, which honestly is about as American a story as you can find. But, even if you take all the Iago-like plotting out of the Mark Zuckerberg story, what you’re left with is the story of a nerd (the last time I checked, mastering computer programming as a child not only marked you as a highly, highly gifted person but it also gave you a free pass into secret nerd societies everywhere ) who conquered the world. I mean, I doubt Mark Zuckerberg is sitting around outraged because a woman from Gizmodo didn’t like him, you know? Hell, Mark Zuckerberg could buy Gizmodo -– and everything else too, including that writer. (Hell, this writer too if he’s reading. I’m not too proud to pitch in if you need a new footrest/court jester, milord. Why, yes, I will take a check.) Sitting on top of almost 15 billion dollars tends to give you a lot of options. Oh, and it also pretty much automatically makes you one of life’s winners.
3 Steve Urkel
In real life, Steve Urkel would have been shot in a rage by Carl Winslow after one obnoxious antic too many. Or maybe he would have been beaten to death by Eddie or smothered in his sleep by his own parents or hauled off to prison after violating his beloved Laura’s restraining order yet again. But in the land of make believe, Steve Urkel managed to not only survive as the uber-nerd of the ‘90s, he managed to thrive, worming his way into the hearts of his neighbors, the Winslows, and even more shockingly, into the heart of Laura Winslow, who in the end accepted his marriage proposal even though she spent most of their time together professing her undying disgust for his unapologetically obnoxious nerd ways. The Steve Urkel story is the ultimate story of persistence -– creepy, unbelievable persistence, the kind that gets you put on certain lists, but persistence nonetheless, and in the end, you can’t deny that the guy got what he wanted all along, and I guess that makes him a winner.
2 Bill Gates
Perhaps nobody in these strange and terrible times epitomizes the story of the nerd made good more than Bill Gates. We all know the story -– the ubernerdy Gates dropped out of Harvard, armed with only his 9th Level Nerd Powers of computer programming and then managed to turn those powers into a little company called Microsoft, which he then parlayed into roughly a kajillion dollars and the title of Space Emperor of Jupiter. Okay, okay, fine, I’m exaggerating. He was actually named Vice-Regent of Mars, but still… pretty impressive, right? There is probably no nerd on the face of this planet who won the game of life as spectacularly as Bill Gates. He’s richer than Scrooge McDuck, he has a loving wife, the ear of virtually every powerful person on the planet and his influence can be seen and felt in every home and office in America. Hell, I’m writing this using Microsoft Word. Bill Gates won and Bill Gates won BIG.
1 Albert Einstein
The name Einstein is synonymous with the triumphant nerd. No name in history is as attached to the idea of pure brilliance as Einstein. He stands alone atop the world of the nerd. His face adorns posters on the walls of nerds everywhere. His wild hair and eccentricity are as iconic as the man’s brain. In other words, he is just as famous for being a nerd as he is for being a genius, and he is really, really fucking famous for both. He almost doesn’t exist as a real historical figure. He’s one of those dudes who seems almost more like a mythical creature than a man who was once living and breathing. I’d say that this is one nerd who did pretty damn well for himself, wouldn’t you? He may not have been as rich as Bill Gates or had as hot a wife as Ric Ocasek or had award winning movies made about his life like Mark Zuckerberg, but he’s Einstein. He’s Einstein. And that says it all right there, doesn’t it?
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