HABITS & PREFERENCES
Like the elastic waistband of a cheap pair of jeans, the unwelcome glimpse of a well-worn beige bra strap or the explosion of pockets on an outdoorsy vest worn indoors, there are certain telltale signs that characterise Nerds of all professions. These habits give away what could be a deceptively normal person to a full-blown Nerd who is best avoided in the private or group milieu.
This preference can be found across the full spectrum of Nerds, such as Tinkerers, Animators and so on. In a group setting the Nerd will eschew the accepted practice of buying rounds, and insist upon spending $16 on a small bottle of dark beer. This will have the disagreeable effect of drawing attention to him while at the same time creating conversation, a difficult social grace for many Nerds.
After the beer is consumed over a period of several hours, it is proclaimed ‘not as nice as the one I had in Český Krumlov’ then the empty bottle secretly stashed in the folds of a large black duffle or army greatcoat. This is later displayed in the home alongside other obscure beers and tipples, and brought out proudly at social events (World of Warcraft nights) with their fellow Nerds.
There is nothing the Nerd loves more than games. Originally invented for married couples to pass time after they had run out of conversation, games quickly caught on in the Nerd community as a way to pass time with people with whom the conversation never started.
Early Nerds would enjoy long games of Dungeons & Dragons, a role-playing game of the ‘70s. In later years, this was replaced by online versions such as Doom or Tomb Raider, and a host of virtual worlds too numerous to mention here. Some Nerds love these games so much they will give up anything: entire weekends, opportunities to meet up with the opposite sex or long sunny days to play games with their colleagues – either in a darkened Internet café or in a networked room at home. Regardless of location, the Nerd will sit in back-to-back from his friends, and operate in complete silence. Some of his happiest hours are spent is this manner.
The quotation of lengthy tracts of dialogue is an instinct common to many Nerds, and is a tradition that dates back as far as the mediaeval European minstrels, the ancient Greek epic poets or even the Griots of West Africa. The memory needed to remember such lengthy stories is an astonishing trait, and in pre-literate times these storytelling talents were passed down through generations. Many a winter’s evening passed around campfires and stone hearths, where fantastic tales of adventure and romance were told night after night to a captive audience. It is perhaps a sign of our times that upon recitation of the ‘Dead Parrot’ sketch or the ‘He’s not the Messiah’ scene, the modern audience will wish only for an unexpected diversion or a hasty escape. It is a subject worthy of further study. See below for the most extreme form of this behaviour:
Many Nerds are inappropriate quoters of Monty Python sketches. While one could go so far as to say there is no such thing as an ‘appropriate’ quoter of Monty Python, there are sometimes moments in life that cry out for the singing of the Lumberjack Song (when travelling through Canada, for example) or a muttered reference to the ‘Cheese Shop’ sketch (while consuming a runny Camembert). However Nerds are not satisfied with confining this habit to the odd frolicsome moment, and are so fond of quoting Monty Python that the meaning and humour of the original dialogue is generally lost.
This love of Monty Python reaches its full expression in the university years, a time of freedom and expression for many up-and-coming Nerds. After casting off the shackles of secondary school (when many a spotted youth was tormented by his more short-sighted contemporaries) he can at last give full vent to his feelings of alienation through joining groups with names like ‘Friends Of Unnatural Llamas’. Much loud quotation will ensue. This habit can be seen in almost all of the listed species with the surprising exception of Cinema Theorist Nerds. This genus considers the practice of quoting Truffaut or Bergman – in their original languages – and with camera angles acted out – a far more satisfying occupation.
This concludes the series ‘Boo’s Field Guide to Nerds’. I hope this helps you to enjoy sighting and identifying these unfashionable beings. If perhaps not moved to extend the hand of friendship, hopefully my guide will help you to understand a little more, and to sympathise with these sometimes elusive, strangely beautiful creatures.