Well, it all started with my friend Fred Stevens. He had an amusing but annoying habit of pegging people with unusual nicknames. This reached its creative peak when we called Shawn Hughes a "Smeech," since he was a leech with a smurfy attitude; the kind of guy who barges in to say "thanks for your refrigerator, Fred!"
It later got back to Fred that we named him 'Stay-Puft,' because of his uncanny resemblance to the Marshmellow Man in Ghostbusters. Insulted by issues of weight, he replied, "...well then I'd better call you 'Twisty,' 'cause you're like one of those things you tie on a garbage bag!"
"No, that would be 'twis-tie,' -t-i-e," I corrected.
"No, it's Twisty," he replied... and the name stuck. It has taken other incarnations, such as 'Admiral Twist' in my Trekkie days, as well as 'Twistmeister,' 'Twistinator,' and the like. Yet it has become so ingrained into my personal identity that I am doomed to live out my days as 'Twisty' by some form or another.
This question is often addressed on a level of Nature or Nurture, but the third and most crucial ingredient was Choice. I have long possessed gifts of perception and imagination, and have been drawing since three years of age. Yet, up through the fifth grade I was nothing but a daydreamer, exhibitting no interest in science or math.
In Mrs. Schultz's fifth grade class, every student had a construction-paper pony with their name on it. These were taped to the leftmost locker, and would be advanced with the passing of each math quiz, locker by locker, until the pony reached the 'Finish Line.' By the time that most of the class had advanced halfway to the Finish Line, I was still at the starting gate. My daydreaming was costing me dearly.
It was then that a kind girl named Natallie approached me during recess. "You know, Joel, it's not that the other kids have something that you don't. If you just put your mind to it, you can do anything."
It was then that the lightbulb went off in my head and said, "she's right, ya know." I decided then that it would take a lot of determination, prayer, and hard study to become the Answer-Man that I wished to be.
There were some other secondary contributors that charted my course for math and science. On the playground, the kids were picking roles to play from a show I had never heard of called Star Trek. Most of them were fighting over the role of Captain Kirk, but the smartest kid of the lot, Jerry, wanted to be Mr. Spock. When I asked him, 'why Spock?' he then explained that Spock was the man with the answers... the 'Mr. Fixit' whose inexhaustable storehouse of knowledge has saved the ship repeatedly.
He then asked me, "Did you realize that the closest star to our Sun is Alpha Centauri, which is four-and-a-third lightyears away?" Wow. I had no idea. This meritted further investigation... I entered my school library.
I went straight for the first book on Astronomy I could find. To my bewilderment, I found Conflict where I sought Corroberation: It said that the closest star was actually PROXIMA Centauri, which was four-point-three lightyears away. Which was right?!?
Worse yet, I hadn't a clue how to compare decimals and fractions... I was just an ignorant fifth-grader! I then knew that to get answers to Life's pressing questions I would have to cut my own path, ask questions that were inappropriate for the criteria for my grade, and do a lot of independant exploration. Either that, or 'wait until I'm older,' which for any warm-blooded fifth-grader was no option at all.
In time I learned that Alpha Centauri was a binary star, the closer of which was Proxima Centauri. But by that time, I had gone on to being the top math student at my Junior High School, and later at my High School. I briefly joined MENSA and Intertel.