Y'all were so nice about my nerd blog yesterday that I decided to write a sort of nerd blog part 2 about the difficulties of finding nerd friends as an adult. When you're a kid, it's easy to find nerd friends. You just look around the playground and see who else the bullies are throwing oranges at (yes this actually happened to my poor nerdy sweatpants-wearin', bowl-cut-sportin' husband in middle school) and you go ask them, "Hey wanna play Magic at my house after school? We can watch Next Generation after. It's the one where Picard goes back to France and sees his brother. Dra-MA!"
As an adult, though, you're pretty much reduced to answering ads for role-playing groups put up in comic book shops or finding local nerdcore activity Facebook groups. I can tell you from experience (Dylan's, not mine) that you'll end up sitting in a lot of basements with balding, single 35 year olds who still live with their parents and spend their entire Subway restaurant manager income on attending Star Trek conventions that way. Obviously, this is not the ideal peer group for high-functioning semi-closeted nerdfolk who, you know, have a mortgage and mate outside of World of Warcraft.
So, what's a nerd and his nerd-convert wife to do? I propose that the process of finding nerd couple friends is similar to what swingers must go through looking for new...friends...:
|Could I interest you in a little light role-playing?|
You meet a couple or half of a couple at a non-threatening but nerd-friendly event. Screenings of old sci-fi movies, the aforementioned comic book shop (the basement dwelling types are fairly obvious out in the light of day), or sometimes crunchy gatherings like Farmer's Markets or Holistic Moms meetings (though you have to be careful there because sometimes crunchy means, "My husband makes a boatload of money working for Pilot so I drive a hybrid SUV to deal with my massive liberal guilt," not, "I'm accepting of all lifestyles and down for a little nerdy fun"). Your eyes lock across a crowded room. You may notice soft signs of nerdiness such as a Star Wars T-shirt or Doctor Who tattoo. You think, "Hmm...promising..."
You find an excuse to get a little closer, following them around the room trying to catch scraps of their conversation. A reference to cylons or Daenerys Targaryen emboldens you. Your hands "accidentally" touch reaching for the same collector's edition of Watchmen.
"Oh, sorry," you say.
"No problem," they reply.
"Hey, I like your Star Wars shirt," you say.
"Hey, which Star Wars movie is your favorite?" you ask. This is a test. If they reply with the titles of any of the prequels, run away immediately. They are not nerdfriend material as they are total morons with no taste.
"Empire Strikes Back, definitely!" Now we're talking.
You continue the conversation and find a way to slip in a "find me on Facebook". You go home and tell your spouse of the exciting possibility of new friends to get down and nerdy with. You then proceed to pretend for the next 24 hours that you have a life and are much too important to be sitting around desperately waiting for a friend request. "I'm a grown-ass man (or woman), " you tell yourself, "I have a house and car and all." Still, when you finally get that friend request, you're excited. You spend the next 2 weeks carefully crafting each of your status updates to gently hint at your nerdiness but also reveal that you are in no way an uber-loser/basement dweller. You comment on every single blessed thing your potential nerdfriend posts, but you're casual, saying things like, "Cool..." (the ellipses are an important touch that imply you've become distracted by something even cooler while commenting) or "Me too".
After 2 weeks of Facebook courting, you send a message. It reads something along the lines of, "Oh hey, I LOL'd for an hour at your critique of the Real Housewives phenomenon. Wanna come over this Sunday for dinner?" Dinner is good. It's something normal people do and in no way smacks of nerdiness. Also, it's something everyone has to do every day, so it's not like they can say, "Oh, I don't eat dinner. It's just not my thing." If they reply that they're busy that day, follow up with, "That's okay, just found out my good buddy Nathan Fillion's in town, so he's coming over instead." If they don't immediately write back with a "OMG, I just canceled every plan I've ever made. Please let me meet Mal!" then give up. It's a lost cause.
If they do show up, proceed carefully. You must display the right amount of nerd paraphernalia. A boxed complete Battlestar Galactica is good. Life-sized cardboard cut-outs of the entire cast are not (just stash them in the shed and bring them out one by one if the evening's going well). There must be alcohol to lube up the conversation with and you'll probably spend a long, agonizing time deciding whether mead is too outright I-was-a-Medieval-Studies-major before deciding on a decent but readily accessible beer.
During dinner, you'll subtly steer the conversation towards nerdy-lite topics such as movies based on comic books all the while inching your T-shirt up bit by bit to reveal your, "Comic-con 2010" camisole. If they respond well to this, you can then share stories about your college roommate who was "so into D&D it wasn't even funny". You'll want to take a long pause here to allow them time to respond. If the response is something along the lines of "Ew, gross. D&D players are unwashed girlfriendless freaks" it's time to come down with a sudden and terrible stomach bug. If it's, "I totally know what you're talking about! Some of the guys in my old gaming group could get pretty intense", you're golden.
Now's the time to say those fateful words, "So...are you guys gamers?" If they respond with a "Are we what?" or "Yeah, I totally love Call of Duty," sigh and mentally relegate them to the level of thrice-yearly bar buddies. If they eagerly respond with a list of role-playing games they enjoy (that don't involve whips and chains...unless of course you are in fact swingers), you've found it! Your nerdfriend couple match! An elusive and wonderful thing it is. Enjoy it, friend.
|Yay! I no longer have to round out my dungeoning crew with my kids' stuffed animals!|