I’m a late-blooming geek.
In my 20s and 30s, through the magic of Netflix, I watched and loved all the updated Star Trek TV shows, X-Files, Battlestar Galactica, Buffy and Angel. I’d obsess. I’d theorize. Fringe and Lost were appointment TV.
But not Doctor Who. I just couldn’t watch Doctor Who.
Growing up in the US in the 1970s and 1980s, I was familiar with Doctor Who on some level from promos on PBS. It seemed to be a low-budget show with a curly-haired guy in a long striped scarf. Sometimes the guy in the scarf would be replaced with a younger guy in a cricket outfit. The special effects were terrible and the main monster attacked people with a toilet plunger.
But the big problem I had with it was that when I was growing up, “Doctor Who fan” was the byword for hopelessly nerdy. Nerdy was bad. Nerdy was friendless. Nerdy was to be put down. Don’t be nerdy.
In school, I was a chubby, zitty, smart girl who lived for choir practice. But at least I wasn’t a Doctor Who fan.
As an adult, I thought I’d mostly gotten over such silly fears and prejudices. What does it matter what you like to wear, or what you look like, or what music you like, or how much money you have, or where you are from, or how much education you have? These things have nothing to do with your inherent worth as a human being.
Sometimes I still catch myself thinking judge-y thoughts about such insignificant stuff. If I think, “that lady’s shirt with kittens on it is cheesy,” I reprimand myself with a resounding “so effing what if she likes kittens? Who on earth does that hurt? You get down with your kitten-shirt-loving self, lady.”
I see a not very attractive guy in a skirt and make-up and I think: “That person has guts. I wish I had that kind of guts to be myself.”
The ads grown-up me saw for the new version of Doctor Who that started in 2005 looked intriguing. They made it look liked something I would love. But it was Doctor Who! Super nerdy awful Doctor Who! A bridge of nerdiness too far.
Somehow I just couldn’t allow myself the same freedom I celebrated in others to watch a TV show I might like. It was too ingrained with the fears and loneliness and vulnerability of possibly not having someone to sit with during lunch at middle school.
But I got some confidence when I started my own business, Marfdaze, on Etsy, making bags out of interesting fabrics. At first I played it safe and used prints that were pretty and that I thought would have a broad appeal. But I also picked a few insane, goofy fabrics that I truly loved.
Turns out, the “crazier” bags that had personal resonance with me were much much more successful than the “normal” stuff. So I let my freak flag fly and gave my taste full reign. I reveled in the silly and the clever. My business started taking off.
One day I was contacted by a lady who was buying some bags from me. She asked if I ever used Doctor Who inspired fabrics, and if so, could I make one for her. I told her no, sorry, I’m not really familiar with Doctor Who. But I also told her that it seemed interesting and asked her if one could like the new version, without knowing the old version. She said absolutely and I should try it.
Very shortly thereafter, I found myself recovering from a big surgery with lots of time on my hands and strict doctor’s orders to stay on the couch. It was time to get over myself. It was time to check out Doctor Who.
I loved it! It was fantastic and smart and funny and scary and it made me cry. A lot. I pulled my husband in to watch with me. He got hooked, too.
I wondered how anyone could possibly be as good as Christopher Eccleston. But then there was David Tennant. How could anyone be as good as Tennant? Suddenly there’s Matt Smith. There’s Donna and Jack and Rose and Rory and River. Oh, I’m unabashedly in love with you, River Song.
Where has this been all my life? Oh right, I had shunned it, because I was afraid that other people would think I was too nerdy. No more!
So I healed and then ordered up some Doctor Who fabric from Spoonflower and made some bags.
I contacted the Doctor Who fan and told her how much I loved Doctor Who and that I was making bags.
The bags flew out the door, because lots of people love Doctor Who. As they bought bags, they wrote me notes about the latest episodes and which Doctor was their favorite. I discovered that if life suddenly turned into a big scary middle school cafeteria, I’d have plenty of interesting, funny and kind Doctor Who fans to sit with at lunch.
I also found out that the woman who asked me for the bag in the first place also had her own Etsy shop, LynBDesigns. She makes nail polishes inspired by things she likes, like Sherlock and Princess Bride, and of course, Doctor Who. So I tried some of her polish out. I love those too! Here are two of my favorites:
LynBDesigns ended up starting me on another new kick: Glitter nail polish. Now I’m a chubby, smart, Doctor Who loving 38-year-old lady sporting glittery glitter nail polish.
Judge me if you want, imaginary ghost of middle school past. I look at my fingers and my life and I smile.