Geeking Out

How do you know when you’re a history geek?  Well, check out Elizabeth May’s brilliant post from Monday for starters.  You’re probably also on the geek side of normal if you can answer yes to any of the following questions:

1.  Can you speak/read/understand/make jokes in an extinct language?

2.  Have you ever insisted that your family accompany you on a 300-mile roundtrip journey just to visit a field that may or may not have been the site of a long-forgotten battle?

3.  When they have a history question, do your friends call you rather than check Wikipedia?

4.  Do you know more about the family tree of a historical figure than you do about your own?

5.  Have you ever got a sense of deja vu only to realize it’s because history repeats itself?

6.  Do your local reference librarians know you by name?

7.  Have you ever had to tear up a check because you wrote the wrong century in the date line?

8.  Have you ever gone a week without bathing or washing your hair, cooked on a coal-fired stove, slept on a straw-filled mattress, worn a hair shirt, walked a mile in leather-soled shoes or even tried to read by the light of a single tallow candle just to see “what it would have been like”?

9.  By the same token, are you thankful every day for modern conveniences like indoor plumbing and toothpaste?

10.  Have you ever dug up a carpark just to see what lies beneath the asphalt? (bonus points if you know what I’m referencing.)


Most of my friends have got used to me blurting out historical factoids and talking about 16th Century characters as if they’ve been cavorting on a reality TV program called The Real Housewives of the Tudor Court.  Many of my new acquaintances accept my geekiness for what it is–because most of them are writers in some way shape or form and we all have our own brand of crazy.  Even my editor–after a phone call in which I went off on tangents about everything from the Levellers to Thomas More to the end of Apartheid in South Africa–said, “Geekery in general is something I have a soft spot for.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t spend my life working with writers!”

I’ve found my people.  Are you with me?


About Katherine Longshore

Katherine Longshore is the author of GILT (Viking/Penguin May 2012), a story of friendship and betrayal set in the court of Henry VIII, and TARNISH (June 2013), the story of a young Anne Boleyn. You can learn more about her

5 thoughts on “Geeking Out

  1. To answer #1, um, yeah! My roommates in college and I referred to ourselves as the “Dead Languages Society” (Old English, Sanskrit and Biblical Hebrew). Guess which one I was…

    Not only am I my family’s Google, but my husband doesn’t even want to watch historical movies with me (forget “The Tudors”) because of all the harumphing and eye-rolling and “That’s not right!”

    I will someday visit the maybe-not battlefield of Bosworth, and I have also added a carpark in Leicester to my Wars of the Roses itinerary.

    And yes, I thank my good fortune every day for having been born in the era of antibiotics (my daughter has a sinus infection even now) and the delicately named “feminine hygiene products” without which I can’t imagine living.

    I can only add that I am happy to see that in my daughter’s high school, there is a strong, thriving geek culture and an environment in which it is cool to be smart. Geeks FTW!

  2. J says:

    #4 and #7.

    #7 just last week, actually, and it took me a good thirty seconds to figure out why it was wrong. 1032 looked okay to me.

    Also, I love me some Levellers. Say hey for early modern agrarian communism!

  3. #2 – my parents never go for it. My future husband better have his bags packed, though.

    #3, #4, #5, #6, #10…and I definitely refer to historical figures as if I walked by them yesterday. Brangelina? Who the heck is Brangelina? Henry IV sightings and samurai battles are where it’s at.

    I have found my people! 🙂

  4. Ha, ha! Great post and very funny . . . maybe because I relate too much!

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