You were 15 years old, and a nerd, and you went to nerd school. More precisely, you were a homeschooled nerd, but had received special dispensation to take some classes at a local public high school. You used this dispensation to take computer science. Your classmates were also nerds. You had a habit of wearing a black fedora and a Tom Baker-as-Doctor Who-length knit muffler, until the capriciously stifling school rules changed, banning the wearing of hats while inside school buildings. You were a generally well-behaved nerd, and thus followed this rule despite privately regarding it as stupid and misguided. One day, you entered the school building and forgot to remove your incredibly dorky fedora. A friend quickly corrected you—“Hal! Hat!”—and you hurriedly doffed it. But you were not fast enough; a grim-faced school enforcer approached you and demanded the hat, pursuant to the school’s policy. You explained that you had only been inside for a few moments, and that you had removed the hat immediately upon being reminded to do so. Unmoved, the enforcer took the hat. You had the na├»vely rational and defiant heart of a homeschooler, though, and demanded to see the principal, who would surely see reason. The principal did not see reason, the rules did not bend for you, your hat was not returned, and you left the administrative wing hatless and late for class, your cheeks red and tear-streaked as you entered the computer lab and sat down in front of a VT220 terminal’s amber glow to write Pascal code and try not to cry any more.

— § —