Sunday, December 20, 2009

The life cycle of Nerds

During this wonderful time of year, I like to sit back and appreciate all the wonderful Nerds in my life. So to thank them all I have decided to dedicate a few moments of my time to The Care and Feeding of Your Nerd*.

(*All statements hereafter are purely opinion and/or humor related. They are not intended to offend, reject, or otherwise cause ill feelings to any of the audience. Unless you WANT to be offended, then by all means - take my stereo-typing and run with it. But, if you start Nerd Bashing or Geek Hunting, please don't bring up my name. I had nothing to do with it. )

For my purposes, I feel I must define just exactly what I mean here by Nerd. By my own method of scientific process (re:personal random opinion) being a Nerd means more than just being a little smarter than your buddy or really liking video games. You must be well-educated, bright, eclectic, and willing to share your knowledge, at least with those you know. Being a Geek takes it a step further they may have limited social skills, but may not be as willing share said knowledge unless pressed or bribed. Dweebs fall into the less-educated but more willing to share facts with strangers category. This should not be confused with the Trivial Person, though, who is generally very social but can pull up trivial facts at the drop of a hat as a party trick. Dweebs, Nerds, and especially Geeks find it very difficult to perform on demand, at least when in an unfamiliar or mixed group of people.

Nerds, Geeks, and Dweebs can often be found in close proximity to each other. Although there is the occasional Lone Nerd or Solo Dweeb, they generally congregate for protection starting at an early age. There are many types of Nerd - Computer Nerd, Gaming Nerd, IQ Nerd, Military Nerd, Cultural Nerd, Boy Scout Nerd, Math Nerd, etc. The Nerd type is also seen in a subtle form in other demographics - Teachers Pet, Fashionista, Skater Dude, and even Eternal Jock. While not as well-rounded, they can easily deem themselves to be "experts" in their prospective fields and can be just as aggravating, freakish, and bizarre as your average Dweeb on a good day.

Something most Nerds excel at is being able to mix up a few different focus groups for the sake of interest. The more categories you can fit into, the more Supreme a Nerd you are. A favorite pastime of Nerds from any category is determining how much of a Nerd you are in comparison to the Nerd next to you. The Nerd with the most titles wins. The bragging rights of Supreme Nerd are well sought after and appreciated by other Nerds of society.

I have come to believe Nerd-ness is genetic, or at least an acquired trait from your environment. It's kind of like insanity - you either get it from your parents or your kids. While there are occasionally mixed families of Normal People and Nerd, generally you'll find that the family that Games together stays together (I am not referring to Candy Land or Monopoly. If I have to define "Gaming" than you won't understand and you'll be confused from this point on anyway.) You can usually pick out the young Nerdling in public. They are the ones who are using words like "gargantuan" and "bilateral" and quoting Shakespeare in an ironic manner. While this might be labeled as simply Precocious, there is a subtle difference. Precocious children like to sound smarter and older but might not truly understand the concepts that they are trying to use. A Nerdling will not only understand, but will be able extrapolate much further and usually can site references.

I don't just speak from an outsider's point of view. I live the Nerd life and always have. I come from a long line of both Nerds and Geeks, though thankfully, we don't have too many Dweebs on my side. (I refuse to make mention of anyone on my husbands side because it is, after all, the week before Christmas and I don't wish to insult the Bearers of Good Gifts. ;-) My Father was a Computer Nerd before computer nerds were cool. He worked for one of the first companies to produce personal computers and was part of their very first IT department. We had our first PC when I was about 8 years old and had three in the house within 4 years (complete with extra phone line for dial-up internet service) We only had one television and no microwave, but we had the fastest processor on the block! My mother was a High Class Nerd who enjoyed Mensa meetings and esoteric musical instruments. Without a doubt, they produced five more Nerds, who in turn, have produced roughly a dozen more. We are all of different types and we all have learned to disguise or embrace our Nerdiness in different ways.

My Nerdiness was apparent early on. Even at a the tender age of three I could tell my mother that I "preferred" my hair in braids instead of simply "wanting" them that way. I would type out my school work on the computer and then hand-copy it for the teachers that would not allow type-written copies (penmanship was so important in those days!) In Jr High I became an Arts Nerd through Orchestra, Choir, and Drama classes. I had a few fellow Nerdlings that I would ICQ and IM (Who remembers Prodigy?) My High School years were spent with Comic Nerds, Music Nerds, and other Art Nerds. I had some Geeks and Dweebs in my inner circle, as well, and it was through them that I first learned how to play Dungeons and Dragons, which Anime was better, and how to play Metallica's One on the cello.

Thankfully, DH is a Nerd as well. (Mixed marriages of Normal and Nerd do not work well very often unless there is a lot of money involved - usually on the part of the Nerd.) He is currently rated Supreme Nerd for the third year in a row in his local Nerdiness Lodge. I couldn't be more proud. Being married to a Supreme Nerd is very interesting, but also very time consuming - at least for him. Currently he is working on his 14th Nerd Badge in Boy Scout Nerd (Building Things for Fun Out of Wood and Leather) but he already has a wide array of Nerd Patches from Computer Nerd and Cultural Nerd, including Reading Non-Fiction Books to Settle Arguments About Ancient War Techniques and Using Physics to Fire Rubber Bands at Co-Workers in Other Cubes.

Ah, yes. Who can deny the awesomeness of a working model of a WWII era tank built completely from card stock and used scotch tape rolls. It was DH who bought me my first miniature and patiently taught me how to prime it and paint it using only the finest acrylic paint and microscopic paintbrushes. Through the last 10 years of our marriage I have taken part and hosted gaming groups from a dozen genres, including one storyline that has lasted more than 10 years. Our childrens' aunts and uncles are quite a bit more tattooed and pierced than your Average Normal Person. Some of our best friends are even engineers. (The weight of that statement won't make any sense to you, either, unless you already KNOW what I mean.) Being a pair of Nerds does make it a little easier for gift-giving occasions. I can get him a track ball mouse and he can get me a computer repair toolkit and neither of us will end up sleeping on the couch because of it. It does make it a little more difficult for romantic rendezvous. What will be a turn on this time - using our role playing characters for Role Playing, thumbing through the latest sci-fi magazine, watching re-runs of Coolest Explosions on the Military Channel? I just never know, sometimes. Luckily, we are able to communicate pretty well with each other. Code words on texts and e-mails have gotten past firewalls more than the bosses will ever know.

I think my own Nerdiness has blossomed with his help. Being more comfortable with my own quirks have made me a better person. I am able to raise my girls with a lot more self confidence and a much wider-opened mind than I might otherwise have had. That's a very good thing because my girls are all three well on their way to following in their family's footsteps. Each one is unique in her specific category of Nerdiness but they work together so well, it's like little cogs in a little Brainiac Machine. They all have their own set of multi-sided dice so they can play Hero Quest with DH on the weekends. Little Heart told me this afternoon that she was frustrated with the plastic sword she was playing with against the neighborhood kids - it was not balanced enough to be able to use properly (too heavy at the tip, she said.) Evil Genius, of course, is currently trying to soak up every bit she can about Medieval Siege Engines. (Very important for the eventual task of World Domination.) We very conveniently gifted the small-scale Trebuchet to a (distant) family friend for the time being out of fear that she will be able to replicate a full scale one in the backyard. No one wants to see what a 6 yeaar old can do with Beanie Babies and a properly calculated counterweight. Even Tiny Dancer has her own Nerd qualities about her. She has embraced the Cultural Nerd affinity, I believe. So far anything Chinese is her interest, but she will also jump at anything relating to Native American contemporary or historical culture. (No, we're not actually Native, but that doesn't dampen her spirits a bit.) If she could I believe she would eat her Navajo fry bread with chopsticks just for fun. She also refuses to wear matching socks - ever. It's just too Normal for her.

Well, being the week before Christmas, I have plenty do to prepare for the upcoming Holiday. We must prepare a Soltice Feast for their grandfather, string CAT 5 on the Christmas tree, and wrap the Manga graphic novels for stocking stuffers. Now I am off to make a gingerbread replica of a medieval dungeon and bake sugar cookie nerd cutouts with little candy glasses. I love this time of year!

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