There’s a certain viral video that’s been making the rounds of late — if you haven’t seen it, you must not have friends on Facebook, or follow anyone on Twitter, or have one of those relatives who insists on forwarding “hilarious” emails to everyone in their address book. This one is purported to be a dating video from a random user on eHarmony.com — and though we’ll almost certainly find out in the long run that it was an advertisement of some sort, for now let’s assume that’s all it is. If you haven’t seen it, or you want to be certain it’s the one you’re thinking of, here’s the link.
So the one thing we take from this video, whatever its eventual provenance — this lady loves cats. Really loves cats. So much that she sniffles talking about the happy parts of cat ownership, and full-out loses it when she thinks about those cats out in the formless void whom she cannot have and hug and put, for some reason, into baskets. I’m not sure where she’s finding cats who willingly stay anywhere you place them, but we’ll let that one slide as well. The point is, she + cats = lurrrve.
As I’m sure you can imagine, no one is passing around this link to show how amazingly well-balanced and in touch with her feelings this woman seems. No, the joke of course is that she comes off as completely over the edge, and all the better in what’s supposed to be a video from someone’s dating profile — who would want to ask a crazy cat lady to dinner? What would you eat? (And we don’t need to make the obvious Whedonesque-demon joke.) Would you feel safe in her home knowing that some day you’d wake up drowning in a catvalanche?
I laughed the first time I saw it, too (though even then I thought it a deliberate comedy sketch); but as I came across it from my friends list again and again, I realized something about the woman in the video: assuming she is a “real person” and was speaking her heart — I would describe her as a cat geek. She holds an extreme enthusiasm for a certain subject, in this case the adorability of felines, which I think it’s fair to call geekiness. And as a founding member of Toronto’s geekiest theatre companies, that realization can’t help but foster a sense of kinship.
Certainly, for the most part, our plays, and the Twitter comments we’ve hash-tagged with #ykyamw (You Know You’re A Monkeyman When), have fallen more within the traditional areas of geekdom — we start our statement of purpose referencing comic books, monster movies and video games. But we also go on to define our subject matter as, “obsessions and preoccupations in the 21st Century.” To me, that says you can be a geek about whatever subject is closest to your heart.
It’s not a new concept — we’ve called ourselves theatre geeks since even oldsters like I were back in school, and book geeks. Our Artistic Director would certainly accept the mantle of a football geek. Both my sister (a professional chef) and my girlfriend are food geeks — more specifically, dessert geeks. They collect and trade recipes like Star Wars cards, they have their own blogs and Flickr accounts dedicated to displaying their collections (and well they should; a cupcake doesn’t have the staying power of a plastic Godzilla).
Admittedly, there’s no evidence that this woman is well-informed about cats, or has even done some basic research on the subject — will a rainbow support even the lightest of kittens? — but I heard people arguing in the lobby after watching the latest X-Men movie who had even less idea of what they were talking about. And I’d definitely call them geeks. So it’s not fair to judge based on obsession simply because it doesn’t include useful knowledge. (For chrissake, they didn’t even know that only Beast was actually one of the team who was actually in the X-Men’s original lineup.)
So call her crazy and overwrought as you will, I have seen the eHarmony lady and she is us. She has the same right to her enthusiasms as does any Xbox aficionado or rabid Trekker, and I’d gladly welcome her into the fold of Geek. I may not ask her out to dinner, but I’d invite her to our shows and hell, I’d even let her cuddle my cats. But no little bow ties — that’s where I draw the line.