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Bee Girl Finds Her Hive at Sakura-Con 2012

Bee Girl

My memories of elementary school are not fond ones.

For a few reasons, I had trouble relating to other kids my age. I still remember a comment from one of my report cards which read “Gets along well with adults, but does not get along with other children.”

After a particularly unpleasant semester, a semester that saw my grades and attendance compete with each other for atrocity, the principal of my school thought it might be helpful for me to take an IQ test. I can’t say for sure, but I think the expectation was that the results would provide the basis to put me in a “mentally challenged” program.

Imagine everyone’s complete shock when the results came back, and it was found that not only was I not stupid, but my score placed me in the top 1 percentile of all human beings. While this probably seems like a great thing, the reality wasn’t nearly as glamorous. To the contrary, it was pretty lame. Debating the existence of God or the practical necessity of saying the Pledge of Allegiance with a room full of 9 year-olds is not the path to popularity. In fact, I learned that it makes you a weirdo. Adults, aware that you are a child, have no desire to discuss these things with you either.

The net result is that you spend a lot of time with your own thoughts, and in doing so, you develop a certain amount of contempt for a society that seems to discourage intelligence and celebrate stupidity.

Somewhere along the line, in order to vent your frustrations, you buy a server, start a blog, and … eh it looks as though I’ve gotten way off-topic.

My point is that, I would have gladly traded a few IQ points for a little less social awkwardness when I was in elementary school. Years later, I narrowed the intellectual gap significantly through loud amplifiers and a healthy drug habit, but those tender, formative years were quite depressing, and you can’t get them back.

Fast forward a couple of decades …

For the past two years, my daughter has taken standardized tests at school, and for two years in a row, her scores have placed her in the top 1 percentile of all students her age in the Seattle School System.

Not only that, but she also finds it very hard to relate to her peers. Especially her female peers.

Sound familiar?

Ain’t genetics a bitch?

Dolls? Nope.
Justin Bieber? No interest at all (thank God).
The latest blockbuster Disney movie? Could not care less.
Fashion? You’ve got to be kidding.
Makeup? Never tried it, doesn’t want to.

She cares little about the things other girls her age care about.

She does, however, keep an extensive collection of her own artwork, is learning to make websites (including writing Javascript code), moderates a web forum … oh … and she plays video games. Lots and lots of video games. She currently has a Nintendo Wii, two DS handhelds, an Android handheld, and a PC with a quad-core CPU, 8GB RAM, and 2TB Hard Drive on which to play World of Warcraft, Wizard 101, Toontown, etc, etc.

She can’t name a single movie that’s been released in the last 5 years, but if you mention … simply mention World of Warcraft, you are in for a two hour dissertation about the relative merits of Death Knights versus Warlocks and the easiest way to obtain the Scepter of Ghandolf with a shorthanded dungeon made up of three Mages and a Night-Elf Hunter.

The other girls in her class, well, they know nothing of these things, she tells me. Furthermore, when she brings the topics up, her classmates are not interested. Needless to say, making friends is not easy, and she doesn’t get a ton of birthday invitations. A few months ago, she was the only girl in her class not to get an invite to a classmate’s party.

Of course, that hurt. She’s very sensitive, and the fact that she’s not “normal” causes her a great deal of anxiety. It’s painful at times to watch her go through some of the same things that I did. Fortunately, I know exactly how she feels, and I set aside time each day to talk about all of the things that kids her age don’t want to talk about.

This past Sunday, I decided to take her for a walk, just she and I. We went to the Seattle Central Library to return a book, and on the way back, we cut through Freeway Park.

As we exited the sidewalk maze which runs behind the Convention Center, and rounded the corner, her eyes suddenly lit up.

The Sakura-Con people were enjoying their last few hours of the convention, and they had once again convened in the park. In particular, just like last year, they had formed a “Glomp Circle”.

We walked up to the circle, stood about 10′ outside of it, and my daughter began identifying each costume.

“There’s blah blah blah (insert real name for blah blah blah)”, she would say when a character she recognized joined the circle, “and there’s Big Bam Zoom (or whatever)”. She knew an awful lot of them.

She stood there for about 20 minutes, watching intently, until she asked “Those girls … do you think they really like video games?”

“Sure they do!”, I replied, and for the first time all day, she cracked a smile. She seemed … relieved. Almost as if the future held some promise that she wouldn’t always be peerless.

I tried to leave at one point, but my daughter asked me if we could stay “just a few more minutes”. I agreed, and we did.

Finally, I asked her if she wanted to join in and play. As soon as I suggested it, an expression of fear came across her face, and who could blame her? After all, at this point, she was by far the youngest person there, and this “glomping” thing got kind of rough at times.

Physical injury wasn’t her concern, though.

“Oh, no, I don’t think they want me to play with them, I don’t have one of those badges”, she said, referring to the admission badges that were pinned to all of the attendees.

Just then, almost as if on queue, a bizarrely-dressed girl ran up to my daughter, picked her up, spun her around, then pointed to the middle of the circle and yelled “go!”

And, much to my amazement, she did. She ran to the middle of the circle, threw a bottle in the air, then ran and hugged a complete stranger. A complete stranger three times her size.

For the next two hours, yes … two hours … I stood and watched while my daughter “glomped” with these people. Her people. The misfits, outcasts, freaks, and geeks of Sakura-Con.

The whole time, as I watched, I couldn’t get a particular thought out of my head. It was Bee Girl. I couldn’t stop thinking of Bee Girl.

You remember Bee Girl?

As Blind Melon plays their most accessible song, No Rain, Bee Girl gets laughed off the stage before roaming the streets of the city looking for a single kindred spirit until finally … finally … she finds not just one, but an entire field full of her people.

That is exactly what happened on this day. After a year of getting laughed off the stage, my daughter roamed the streets of Seattle, from Pike Street to Madison, Seneca to University, 4th to Union, until, by complete accident, she found her people … in the middle of a concrete clearing, dressed in elaborate costumes and dancing joyously. She found her people, she breathed a sigh of relief, and she joined in. She danced er “glomped” until the sun began to disappear behind the nearby skyscrapers. She smiled, she laughed, and she’s already made plans to attend next year, only this time, she’ll have a badge too.

Sure, it’s corny, but life really does imitate art at times, and this experience is about as metaphorically close to that video as you can get.

She wants to go as one of her favorite characters, but I’m trying my best to convince my daughter to attend the convention as Bee Girl next April. I’ve played the video for her a dozen times on YouTube, and she likes the song, but she’s not completely sold on the idea. At least not yet.

If next year, while attending Sakura-Con, you see a girl dressed as a giant bumble bee, then, well, you’ll know that I succeeded.

Fly, Bee Girl, fly.

22 comments to Bee Girl Finds Her Hive at Sakura-Con 2012

  • Sal

    Rex I’ve been reading your blog for a couple years now and I’ve seen a lot of interesting and cynical rants about Vegas, NW, and Seattle but this is the first I can recall being truly tender hearted.
    If she goes next year I hope she has a great time.

  • Aaron C

    I think a better idea would be to let your daughter go as whatever character she wants to go as and you go as one of the bee dudes.

  • Chuckreis

    Just keep her on the course of being a real girl gamer and not one of those damn pink wearing Frag Dolls that Ubisoft puts out there.

    • durr

      Hey, one of my friends is a Frag Doll who loves pink and she’s a damn gamer. Who cares if she’s making money by being one of them for ubisoft. Fuck you guys are talking about stereotypes in this article and dish on the Dolls. Fuck your double standards.

  • matguy

    PAX, she must go to PAX.

    Same place, Labor Day Weekend, Penny Arcade Expo. A little less dressing up, more games.

    The East Coast event just went on last weekend, so they’re still coming down from that, so there’s not a lot of info out for the West Coast (Prime) event yet, but expect it soon.

  • James Black

    I cried. Not gonna lie.

  • SPRUNT

    Wow, Rex. Actually moistened my eyes a bit with that one.

    We should get together some “nice” weekend with our kids and hang out somewhere; find this year’s zombie walk or something.

    I also need to make sure I plan proper weekends for next year’s Sakura-con.

  • kindred

    Thank $DIETY you live in a city like Seattle.

  • matguy

    That song just came on my Pandora mix, still playing…

  • Michele

    Rex, this warmed my cold heart. With so many kids bullied and excluded this was the inspiration she needed to know she is more than worthy. Here is to your daughter finding her footing and confidence among the so many horrible people out there.

  • Jason A

    It’s posts like this that keep me coming back for more.

    Glad you and your daughter had a very fun outing and I look forward to reading about the return next year.

  • Sam

    Sakura-Con this year was seriously the best thing I’ve ever experienced. It was so cool to meet people who are just as crazy as I am! I think that your daughter will have an amazing time at Con next year. There’s so many video game related panels, and I’m sure that she’ll meet a ton of people that like the same things she does. At Sakura-Con no one’s an outcast. Everyone just wants to hang out and have fun!

  • coolpacific

    And you say there is no God…

  • Julie G

    Best blog ever. For what it’s worth, your daughter is my son’s dream girl.

  • Teresa A,

    I just happened to stumble across this blog from a friend’s share on his facebook. I’m a 3rd year volunteer staff for SakuraCon and you have NO IDEA how touched reading this had made me! I’m so happy your daughter was able to find a place for her to call her own here at our Con and hearing stories like this is what makes it worth it for all our hard work for us staff members. We really do hope to see you and your daughter attend next year! (Even if she’s not the Bee Girl :3 )

  • theo

    Hi Rex;

    My girlfriend sent me a link to this story, since we both went through a lot same experiences growing up (for me especially the extra alienating IQ test results), and I must say you made me weepy in the middle of my office. I had, at best, acquaintances until I was 16 when I moved from rural PA to hyper-urban East Bay CA, where I’ve met some of the best nerds, geeks, and dorks, on the planet. I’m so glad to hear that your daughter found out that she wasn’t alone so early, and hope that she gets as much joy from cons as I did, until everyone else her age catches up to her. :D

  • hey rex,
    a buddy of mine does alot with cons all over the country i sent him this article and he wants to get her a comped ticket to next years sakura con :) if you read this hit me up my email is diagamond2000@yahoo.com and ill send you his info and you guys can get together and make bee girl a reality

    much love,
    remy

  • rmc

    I just spent half an hour in tears, but it’s a good thing. I went through exactly what your daughter did, and I know just what she felt, except that my parents didn’t like me being nerdy or geeky. They wanted the high test scores and plethora of gifted programs, but they also wanted me to be normal and have lots of friends. Needless to say, this didn’t really work.

    I was alone and felt like no one would ever have my back, and no one would ever be my friend. I believed I’d never have a community to belong to. Then, I got to college, I met other nerds and outcasts and otaku…. and my parents actually discouraged me from hanging out with them. In the end, I chose my community. I’m happy, I have friends and love and a sense of belonging.

    Your daughter is amazingly lucky and blessed. She has a wonderful parent, and because of that, I am certain she will grow up not only to be brilliant and fascinating and admired, but also confident and strong. Keep doing what you’re doing, Rex. You’re making the world a better place.

  • Scott

    I know I’m commenting on this really late, but I just saw this now, and I am really touched.

    Growing up, I was in the top 1% myself, and in the mid 90s, being interested in electronics, age of empires, and warcraft 2.

    People just didn’t understand.

  • Janir

    Well 2013 is almost over. Surely Sakura-con has happened? Whats the update? I stumbled on a link that a friend of mine posted. Did your daughter have a great time?

  • David Worthington

    Let her go, (I shouldn’t put a comma here but it’s needed)as the character she perceives herself to be. I totally get the brilliant bee girl analogy. But that’s the thing, her vision and reality is likely even more complex and therefore the journey to find it even more rewarding and beautiful.

    Great story I dig it bee girl.

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