Scenes from a Geek Marriage

by Barb Lien-Cooper

When other geeks find out that my husband and I are both geeks in various fan communities, they make certain assumptions about who likes what. Some of their assumptions are true, but some are false. For instance, when I mention that Park and I are both Studio Ghibli fans, people assume that I am the big Miyazaki fan and Park just comes along for the ride. Nothing could be further from the truth. Park introduced me to Miyazaki’s Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro. Park was the one who insisted we start seeing Miyazaki films in theatres the second they were released in the USA (until 2020, of course).

Similarly, when people find out that we’re both manga and anime fans, they assume that I’m the one who got Park into manga. The truth is, he introduced me to Ranma ½ and Oh My Goddess. I was the one who introduced him to Ogre Slayer. I was the one who read horror manga initially, but he soon caught up.

Speaking of horror, I am the one who is the big horror fan in the family. Park is more into fantasy and science fiction. Park is more of an optimist than I am. I am more into works about the psychological (even pathological) aspects of human nature. So, I introduced Park to the works of Robert Bloch and Richard Matheson. He, in turn, introduced me to the works of Roger Zelazny, Harry Harrison, Robert E. Howard, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. I was the one who said, “You mean, you’ve never seen Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street? This cannot stand!” We had a huge film festival of slasher films that week. Early on in our relationship, Park introduced me to Mythago Wood. I, in turn, introduced him to my home state of Minnesota’s Mystery Science Theater 3000.

I’m fortunate that Park trusts my tastes, no matter how weird my current interests might be. When I said that I wanted to have an Akira Kurosawa film festival after me seeing just one film of that director’s, Park said: “Sure, anything you want.” He’s never said, “Oh, I couldn’t get into that.” I remember asking Park to read Jane Eyre because I loved the book as a teenager. Some geek guys would think that they’d get “girl cooties” off the book, but not Park. I explained that the gothic tradition of fiction was the precursor of the horror novel, and that Charlotte Bronte was as important to the gothic tradition in her way as Poe or Irving or E.T.A. Hoffman was. Instead of giving me attitude, my husband’s attitude was: “If it matters to you, it matters to me.”

Then again, the same thing is true for me. Park likes Tolkien, so I let him read The Hobbit to me while I cooked breakfast in the mornings. (“And second breakfast,” Park says.) Park wanted to listen to the BBC Star Wars radio adaptations, so I was right there listening with him. He is the Star Wars fan, while I am more of a Star Trek kind of a person. He also introduced me to a lot of books he liked as a kid. He introduced me to the McGurk books, Danny Dunn, and The Great Brain books. I, in turn, introduced him to The Egypt Game and Dorp Dead, not to mention all the various types of music I liked as a teen.

Our tastes are similar, but different. We learn a lot from each other. When we first met, I was DC Gal. He was Marvel Guy. I introduced him to Hellblazer, while he, in turn, introduced me to the X-Men. The gift he gave me for our first Christmas together was an X-Men thing that had the X-Babies, where the otherdimensional entertainment mogul Mojo used to turn the X-Men into babies, like 8 years old and under. (Kitty Pryde, the youngest, was a literal baby.) I liked the X-Babies. And so then when he showed me more X-Men things, I said “ah, this is Storm grown up. Oh, this is Li’l Wolvie grown up” until I got used to all the X-Men.

Sometimes, our interests don’t quite intersect. I have no hand-eye coordination, nor do I have any mapping skills whatsoever, so I don’t play video games with Park. But every night before bed, he tells me of his adventures with a little droid named BD-1 in Star Wars: Fallen Order or how he won a game of Apex Legends by the twin powers of stealth and what he calls “positioning,” which is complex but has a lot to do with anticipating where the best spot to defend from will be and beating all the other teams there. He’s a great storyteller, and hearing him speak about his wins and almost-wins is, frankly, at least as interesting to me as playing the games myself.

Our marriage is a happy one, and it works, although it might seem a little eccentric to non-geeks. But all I can say is, “Yeah, we’re both big geeks, and we’ve introduced each other to a lot of great art and entertainment, but don’t make any assumptions about who likes what, because you might be quite surprised by the answer.”

You can learn more about Barb’s work by clicking here, and be sure to pre-order her graphic novel, Hungry Ghosts, below.



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