Thursday, July 5, 2012

You're Not a Nerd, So Stop Calling Yourself One

The other day, I read this article about quite possibly the greatest Academic Decathlete ever.

Some of you out there are probably wondering what an Academic Decathlete is.  You can find out by reading the article, but I know a good lot of you are lazy and won't click (and you really should, so you can understand and appreciate the rest of this post).

The short version is this -- Academic Decathlon is a high school competition with 10 subjects: art, economics, language/literature, math, music, science, social science, essay, interview, and speech.  The first seven objective subjects are scored via multiple choice exams.  The last three subjective events are evaluated by judges.  Finally, there is a team game-show-like event called Super Quiz, which is open to public attendance.

I shared the article with Mr. Monkey, and he exclaimed, "What a nerd!"

"What?  Do you know whom you married?!"

Mr. Monkey laughed.

You guys, I know how to use "whom" correctly.

If that isn't nerd material, I don't know what is.

The article was of particular interest to me because Daniel the Greatest Academic Decathlete Ever achieved his record score in 1993, the same year that I was captain of my high school's team and overall champion of my county.  (For the record, I medaled in essay, speech, interview, art, language/literature, music, and...math.  Ha!  The science guy who came in second overall was super pissed.)

I competed with Daniel the Greatest Academic Decathlete Ever at state.  And, while I didn't even come remotely close to beating him, I was there.

Everyone there was a nerd.  Real nerds.  You should've seen the "dance" that we had the last night of the competition.  Quotation marks required.  Man.

Back then, nerds were outcasts.  They were the subjects of unflattering movies.  You didn't want to be nerd.  That was social suicide.

I feel like I've always been fairly friendly, but somehow that wasn't enough for the popular girls.  I still remember when my mom brought Chinese food for a party at school in sixth grade.  A classmate exclaimed, "Wow!  Your mom is so pretty!"

Then the girl paused.

"You must look like your dad."

The sad thing is that I do look like my dad.

Social networking has heightened my awareness of my past.  The weird thing about being a female nerd is that, for some reason, unlike girls, boys have always been nice to me.

Including cute boys.

Who knows if this was because they wanted me to do their homework or if they were unthreatened by my mannish unattractiveness and awkward mannerisms?

The cute boy from sixth grade ("Cute Boy") is my friend on Facebook.  All the girls were crazy about him.  I wasn't.  Even as a ten-year-old, I was very practical and knew my limitations.  I could do algebra, but there was no way that I could ever secure romantic attention from a boy.  This young realist was just happy that Cute Boy talked to her and said kind things during group projects together.

I only keep in occasional contact with a handful of people from elementary school. Cute Boy is one of them.  He is still a total sweetheart, and he still says kind things on my page from time to time.  Just a really nice guy.  But, oddly, Cute Boy seems completely unaware of just how unpopular I was in sixth grade.

I recall a brief interchange we once had about our old classmates.

"Remember those fun dances at Jenny Smith's house?" (not her real name)
"Dude.  I was never invited.  LOL."

That "LOL" is laced with a little pain and a lot of self-hyperconsciousness.

Today, however, it seems that people want to be nerds.  Or they think they are nerds.  And they're not.

The term "nerd" is now so overused and misused.  It's really irritating.  People say stupid shit like "I know everything about The Bachelor!  I'm such a nerd!" or "I was so obsessed with Sweet Valley High!  I read them all over and over!  I'm such a nerd!" or "I have a Mac and an iPhone, and I read a blog about technology!  I'm such a nerd!"

No, you're not.  What the fuck?  That's not what nerds do.  That's not who nerds are.  You're too stupid even to know what "nerd" means.  You can't possibly be an actual nerd.

Please.

You didn't go through all that awful gawkiness.  You didn't compete in a decathlon that required No. 2 pencils instead of athletic skills.

And you went to Jenny Smith's parties.

Hey, beautiful non-nerdy people, why do you have to co-opt my term?  I earned it, and it's not yours to take.  You already have your good looks and popularity.  Be happy you're not a nerd.  Don't steal my word.

xo,
WM

80 comments:

  1. I feel you WM. Achieving 'nerd' status is of a rarefied air. I'd venture to say I never made 'nerd' myself, but it's distant outcast cousin - 'turd.'

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  2. Too bad I'm a geek. We're still not very cool.

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  3. i stayed up all night reading 2 sweet valley highs then capping it off with some dickens. do i qualify?

    i'm just sad that i was nerdy and awkward but nowhere near as smart as many other nerds. i didn't even join the academic decathlon team because i knew i wasn't that smart. just that awkward.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I was never an academic decathlon kid, but holler for the GATE classes and other advanced classes. And starting in kindergarten, I won awards for reading the most books. I guess I can't claim full out nerd status, but I had nerd tendencies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you remember those Book It contests at Pizza Hut? If you said YES, you qualify!

      Delete
    2. I claimed a lot of personal pan pizzas at Pizza Hut for reading.

      Delete
  5. I like sci-fi movies and play World of Warcraft. I also know entirely too much history. Is it a wonder I'm single?!.. lol...I own my nerdiness!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think this is more "geek" than "nerd." See, e.g., PropTart above.

      Delete
  6. Awesome post! Totally agree. People are just (over-)using the word "nerd" cuz it's all of a sudden cool. To quote you, "PLEASE" (emphasis added, haha).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can hear you saying "PLEASE," Chi-Mei. Hahahahahaha.

      Delete
  7. I never competed in a decathlon but I did get 1st place ribbons for science and geography academic competitions.

    And I got my varsity jacket in HS for theater. Yep. THEATER.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My letter was in Choir, but weezer's seen a pic of the comedy/tradegy masks embroidered on the back.

      Talk about tragic.

      Delete
    2. I got my varsity jacket for being in band. =(

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    3. I lettered in badminton! It is an Olympic sport!

      Delete
  8. i must say that i enjoy the return to non-food posts. although those are lots of fun, it's nice to read your thoughts on other things too :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. You killed me about 100 times in this post!! Lolzzz! Ftr, I never really thought I was a nerd, I know I'm not that smrt. Signed, Jenny Smith.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I HATE YOU JENNY SMITH.

      Just kidding.

      Maybe.

      Delete
    2. Don't you know whom I am?!!

      xoxo

      Delete
    3. Yeah, you're that bitch who never invited me to her dance parties!

      Delete
  10. Replies
    1. It's like being in my head...which is a crazy place.

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  11. I was in academic decathlon and lettered in band and honor roll or whatever the hell it was back in High School. Does that really make me a nerd? I thought I was cool!

    ReplyDelete
  12. The other day a man says to me, "You would not have given me the time of day in high school."
    My response: "Absolutely not."
    I now dream about having this man's babies nightly. Nerds rule.

    ReplyDelete
  13. #GetOffMyLawn I believe that I also earned that title, but it's definitely not for my dominion of the english vernacular.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You blinded me with science!

      Delete
    2. I hope you can't smell the chemicals.

      SCIENCE!!!!!!!!!!

      Delete
  14. I went to the nerdiest high school in my city, but was not nerdy enough for some of my freshman year friend. They dropped me because I got a D in algebra. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your school was such an anomaly. NERD HERD.

      Delete
  15. I was just a wallflower in high school. It's worse than being a nerd; at least you were smart :(

    ReplyDelete
  16. Oh and totally ditto Wan. As much as I worship your food reviews, I really like seeing this side of you. It's a treat in of itself.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I think I've always had both geek and nerd tendencies... think piano competitions/festivals, lots and lots of reading [but no "modern" stuff, just "classics"], video games, Sci-fi movies/TV shows/books... and basically being an straight-A "know it all" outcast without any of the same interests as my peers during my school years :P

    Also, hi! I've been reading your blog forever, but I don't think I've ever commented. :B

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome to the world of commenting, Christine! Thanks so much for being a longtime reader. :)

      Delete
  18. Oh man, DemiDec Dan is my friend's brother!!! Just the other day she was telling me all about his successes. Small world. I was a Daria, not a nerd, for the record. La la la la la.

    ReplyDelete
  19. For the longest time I felt that nerdy was synonymous with bright. For this reason, I considered myself to be a nerd. That all changed when I met DH and his people. He explained things to me like state chess competitions, lan parties, WOW, and larping. I now know I am no where close to nerdy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope. Your husband and his people are geeks. But you are not a nerd either, nor is my brother (and he's the smartest person I know).

      Delete
  20. Yay, I was in GATE/AP and scored in the 99th percentile for the test. I also had no friends because they said I was "annoying" and "talked too much." Boo.

    But no Decathalons for me. My mom didn't believe in any extracurricular activities that were not part of the school day, because after school was reserved for homework only. I got sent to a lot of SAT prep classes though.

    Congrats on your medals!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The beauty of being a nerd is that you know how to characterize "annoying" and "talk too much" as "charismatic" and "engaging" instead. ;)

      Delete
  21. I was captain of our Decathlon team, but I was not a nerd. Luckily, all the nerds in my nerdy classes didn't hang out with the cool kids, so they never knew I was smart.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I did this in high school (but not in Tennessee): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7ZtcbtpECo&feature=related

    Nerdtastic!

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  23. Thanks for writing this -- I couldn't've said it better myself. :) Nerds unite!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I thought I was a nerd...but you out-nerd me. At my school, we didn't do academic decathalons. But I was in Model UN. And, the pretty person you see today did not exist in high school. I was quite unfortunate looking. womp womp.

    But I third (or forth?) the cheers to the non-food posts. These posts make me less hungry and drooly. Which is appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't believe it, Jen! TOO HOT TO BE NERD.

      Delete
  25. Delurking to say I'm so glad you're back!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I found myself combining my nerdiness and geekiness today. As I read an interview with Peter Jackson regarding the upcoming The Hobbit movies, I was correcting his grammar errors in my head:

    "If I was [sic] going to do this"
    "we've got less [sic] people coming to the movies"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do this to everyone (in my head) all the time. I'm glad people can't read my mind.

      Delete
  27. I love this post. Whom loves this post? I do (used incorrectly, I'm sure).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL. Yeah, it should be "who" because "who" is the subject. "Who" is the one doing the loving. BUT...whom do you love? You use "whom" when "whom" is the object -- the one being loved. :)

      Delete
  28. I wasn't smart enough to be a nerd in HS. I was just a big ol' DORK.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thx for connecting with me on foodbuzz. I just subscribed to your blog feed and can't wait to see what your next post will be!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I always get annoyed when other attorneys talk about being law nerds when discussion minutia of law. I want to shake them and say, "Dude, you are lawyers, minutia of law is your freaking job."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nobody should discuss minutiae of law unless at work. Persons who do so are not nerds. They are assholes who lack small talk material.

      Delete
  31. I'm commenting on pretty much every single post - can't seem to stop! This is a great post and so true. Also I don't know what's going on with your parents' genes but geez some serious smartness resulted in the two of you! Also, the voyeur/exhibitionist comment on one of the prior posts was really funny.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would love if you commented on every single post. LOL.

      Delete
  32. This is the best post ever. I guess I'm not a bona fide certified classical 'nerd' as I always claimed. I'm a wanna be. How sad.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Omg. This: "You're too stupid even to know what 'nerd' means. You can't possibly be an actual nerd."

    I love this post so much. So, so much.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I went to a nerdy school. I wanted to be a nerd so bad and crushed on many of them in high school. The sad thing is that nerd boys still like the hot, popular chicks, just like all the other guys. =P

    Don't ask me how I got into a nerd school. I was truly the dumbest of the smart. Yay!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Ah...I miss these insightful blog posts that you used to have more of back in the days. Not that your food and travel posts aren't entertaining to read. ;P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading! I hope to do this more often!

      Delete
  36. This post of both funny and sort of painful. Did you watch the new 21 Jump Street movie? They talk about how the nerds of yesterday are the cool kids of today. Kind of true.

    And like the masses, I love this post and your perspectives on non-food topics. Although your food posts are awesome too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have not seen the new 21 Jump Street. I wanted to get it from Redbox yesterday, but Mr. Monkey wanted Safe House. Hmph.

      Delete

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