Not long after meeting my lover for the first time, and just before discovering girls, my inner geek started showing himself. Many recess periods were spent browsing the little school library. Then there was the mysterious object in the corner. The front door was thick glass with a switch for some sort of blower on the top. Inside was a sink and bottle upon bottle of things like this.
I had singularly discovered a hidden gem. This little school had a fully stocked chemistry lab, including something I believe is called a fume, or exhaust hood.
My first experiment, at the age of eight, was the effects of extremely weak solutions of Thorium Nitrate on petunia plants. Result: they don't grow so well.
After that, a solution to my shyness was discovered; reading and science. I still remember the look of my fourth grade substitute teacher when I asked her to explain the Lorentz Contraction.
Ah, the Musser Public Library in Muscatine, Iowa (pictured here). About once every month we went into town to buy groceries and other necessities. While my Mom and Grandma, shadowed by my brothers and sisters shopped for freezy-pops and milk and other necessities, I was here.
My shyness mattered not in this place of knowledge. Here I discovered ham radio and computers and electronics and physics; and Isaac Asimov.
My reputation as an oddball had begun.
As the other boys were trying to get girlfriends or take up sports, I was reading Asimov and Bradbury and Sagan.
Shy, non-athletic oddballs with penchants towards science do not tend to be 'chick magnets.' At the time, I was good with that.