This is such a saga, I figured I would write it all down so people could just come here and read about it.
In 1994, the lovely Seth Robson and Noel Tolentino had a wonderful zine called Bunnyhop. They were doing a high school-themed issue called “Geeks vs Jocks” and they asked me to write something.
I turned in two stories. One was a tribute to Scott Scanlon, the geeky character on Beverly Hills 90210 who shot himself during the first season, co-written with David U of Distorted Pony. The other was “A Girl’s Guide to Geek Guys,” written with Victoria Manassero.
“Geek Guys” was kind of inspired by us both working at Voyager, a then-trendy company that produced interactive books, CD-ROMs and laser discs. (Yes, it was that long ago.) I had just produced “A Hard Day’s Night,” a CD-ROM that allowed people to watch a feature film on their computer for the first time. It was a fun, geeky time, and I had so many conversations with my guy friends who said they wished they could tell their geeky high school selves that it would get better with girls. I would joke, “Yeah, I would tell the high school girls to go for the geeky guys!” And it sort of went from there.
As I mentioned, this was a long time ago. Most people still didn’t have email, and there was more activity on Usenet than on the still-nascent World Wide Web. My editors would come to my house to pick up floppy discs when I turned in stories. Suddenly, the “Guide” appeared on Wired magazine’s website, Hotwired. Wired had called Bunnyhop to get my number and ask permission to post the story, but they never called, they just put it up.
It was weird. Wired at the time was very cool, and I knew some of the writers–we were all on the WeLL, an old-school BBS, and interacted often. Wired was always publishing stories about terrible people stealing other people’s work! I was flattered, and flummoxed. I still have the URL. It was:
I asked Wired what the deal was, and Gary Wolf, the then-deputy editor, I believe, said he had no idea how it happened. There never was a satisfying explanation. There were lawyers calling me and saying I should sue for $$$! For copyright infringement! That seemed crazy to me, and to Victoria, so we took the money they offered us and that was that.
And of course, from there, the story went all over. It’s in various languages, it’s on hundreds of websites, it’s been on god-knows-how-many email lists. I’ve been in offices and seen it tacked up on people’s walls. I’ve gotten marriage proposals, even. It clearly struck a nerve. However, my name, or Bunnyhop’s name, or Victoria’s name, are rarely associated with it, which is frustrating. A few times I’ve asked people to link back or to put our names on it, and they usually do it, although some get very hostile and demand I prove i wrote it, or they get all spazzy because it does generate a lot of traffic and they think I want to take it away from them, and I’m like, just link to me, that ship sailed a looong time ago.
I wrote a book based on it, called The Geek Handbook, which is still available on Amazon. The book expands on the original–it’s about geeks of every gender, and talks about the geek lifestyle more fully, although it is still satirical.
This is all kind of technical, and I want to write more about geeks and the great geeks I’ve met and continue to meet, but I wanted to get this part down now as there seems to be some confusion out there about the piece’s origins. If you’ve got a copy of it up on your site, I would just ask that you link back to here as a courtesy and to give it some context.
(PS And if anyone is curious, Victoria is still married to Howard and they have a son named Julian! )