Tuesday, June 7, 2011
It was suggested to me recently that I should write a post about The Appeal of the Nerd. Having pretty much exclusively gone out with nerds in my 28 years I thought that was a cracker of an idea but when I sat down to write the post I found I didn't know what to say. Why are nerds so appealing? What is it about a kinda dorky looking guy, ideally skinny and bespectacled, that makes me go a bit red around the edges? Why did I spend the first season of The OC lusting after Seth Cohen (before he became insanely annoying by about episode 1 of season 2)? I had no fucking idea.
Then I met Carol. Carol is not, I hasten to clarify, a nerd. Carol is a girl I happened to be sat next to at a recent work dinner. And after 10 minutes of talking to her I wanted to open my throat with the butter knife.
There was nothing ostensibly wrong with Carol: she was chatty and friendly enough. But she was also impossibly dull. Regardless of the topic - and we weren't talking about fucking peace in the Middle East - she had absolutely nothing of interest to say. She was also, from her long blonde hair and skinny body to her big boobs, pretty conventionally attractive (even if, in my opinion, a bit of a Monet).
Rightly or wrongly it occured to me, listening to the way she interacted with the people around us, that Carol had probably been hot her whole life and, as a result, had never bothered to develop much in the way of a personality, beyond a gormless smile and an ability to say "I totally agree" a lot.
This - it occured to me in something of a Lightbulb Moment - goes some way to explaining the nerd appeal. I wholeheartedly believe that people who aren't gorgeous and popular as kids and teenagers make for more interesting adults. (Yes I might be a little bit biased but shut up, this is my blog). Those of us who have had to struggle to fit have naturally had to work harder at making friends, being interesting, making people laugh. We had to do more than simply show up to make people like us.
Nerds take that a step further by also being smart. I don't mean just that they can fix your computer/phone/TV (although, seriously, thanks for that Andy). I mean they know things that you don't. They have read books you haven't, seen movies you haven't and ideally played computer games you never even knew existed. They have views on things, even if those things are on the utterly dorky side.
Then there is the vulnerability thing. Because, based on my experience, no matter how cute or successful a person may become in later life, nobody who has struggled through his or her early years entirely loses that sensitivity to what others think about them and their place in the world. And is there anything more appealing than a red hot cutie with low self esteem? No. No, there is not.