Sometimes nerds like Anthony Edwards (left) transform into fighter pilots and ER docs. (Photo courtesy 20th Century Fox)
By Angela Olson
If there is one thing I have learned about myself at the ripe old age of 37, it is that I am terribly uncool. Actually, I am a “Nerd” and I have learned to embrace my nerdiness. I am convinced I am a Nerd for several reasons but the main reason is whenever I try to be cool, I fail miserably. In fact, I become the polar opposite of cool, but I would much rather be a Nerd than a “Dork.” Coolness, like adulthood, is overrated and really, I think “Nerd” is the New Black.
What is the difference between a Nerd and a Dork, you might ask? Well, Nerds are a bit more humble whereas Dorks are really cocky. Most people tolerate Dorks while Nerds are more likeable. A Dork is a know-it-all and a Nerd might know a lot but never professes it. Nerds keep their knowledge quiet and hold it tight to their pencil protectors. Dorks tell the whole world about their supposed genius and insinuate a substantial lack of smarts on your behalf. Nerds are meek; Dorks are macho.
My nerdiness knows no bounds. Take for example when I attempt to “strut my stuff.” If ever I think for one instant I am “all that,” I get schooled by the Nerd Fates in a most blatant way. I am as Nerd as the day is long and there is no denying it.
Let’s say I am sporting the tallest, most impossible shoes in the world. To wear a shoe that is akin to a stilt requires one to own it. One has to show high heels who the boss is even though they know it is the shoe that is really the shot-caller. The thing is, I am not a tall shoe girl so I am already at a disadvantage. In fact, I believe I am much like a drag queen when I wear high heels because I do not strut so much as I clomp.
No sooner than I put the heels on and feign cockiness, I trip and fall, big time. Usually this happens in front of scores of people who probably wonder why the “special” lady was wearing such shoes in the first place.
A Dork would not care and would probably buy even taller shoes to assert their position as Shoe Master, whereas a Nerd is humbled and promptly lists the shoes on eBay.
The same thing applies to when I am trying to be flirty. Apparently, the Nerd gene is dominat here as well. Sexiness eludes the Nerd, but the Dork owns it even though they may be gag-inducing and cringeworthy. For example, I may crack a suggestive smile, only to be told I have pepper in my teeth. The flirting will cease just as my face turns deep crimson. A Dork wouldn’t miss a beat and would keep on flirting. One cannot insult a Dork. Moreover, Dorks think themselves to be Bill Gates in Brad Pitt’s body.
And something happens to me when I am driving while Nerd. Put me behind the wheel of a vehicle and I become Nerdy McDorkypants. Especially whenever I am stopped next to someone I know. For some reason, it just is so awkward for me. It is almost as if my vehicle becomes a fishbowl and I am suddenly on display.
I don’t know how to explain it. As soon as I lock eyes with someone I know at a stoplight, I am glad to see them but then I pray the light turns green, stat. What follows is this weird grin-thing that is coupled with my hand popping up in some sort of a wave. And then I say, “Hi,” even though nobody can hear me. Awkward! In this situation, a Dork would rev up his engine and peel out so he would be first out the gate — while driving his souped-up Daewoo with a spoiler fit for a 4 x 4 and an engine that sounds like a lawn mower.
Most Nerds are socially awkward in most situations. However, unlike most Nerds, I am not shy and strike up conversations with anyone and I can talk all the livelong day, too. The language barrier is not even an issue though my nerdiness rears its head here.
Again, I get the unnatural notion in my head that I might be cool because I can somewhat communicate with those who speak Spanish. No sooner than I think I am bilingual the Nerd Patrol sounds the siren. Suddenly, I find I am yelling at the people I am trying to communicate with as if this will somehow make my Spanish better. My dear Mother, God rest her soul, used to say, “Angie, they’re Hispanic … not deaf.” In this case, a Dork would over-enunciate his words and roll those Rs: “COMO ESTAAAAA? MEY GUSTO CHEELAAY REANNNYO.”
To be sure, I have always known I have been a Nerd but for years I chose not to acknowledge it. I fought it and could not figure out why I ended up in the most embarrassing of situations. I am not genetically wired to be cool. Now that I am older, I realize my nerdiness is what makes me unique and it explains my lack of grace. Really, I am grateful to be a Nerd because I think being one fosters humility and I also like to think it prevents me from taking myself too seriously.
However, I believe the Dork has the luxury of ignorance and they say that’s bliss. The Nerd and the Dork are the Yin and the Yang so to speak but both are undeniably entertaining in their own way. I mean, have you ever seen them in action? Let’s face it, the truly Cool People need us Nerds and fellow Dorks to make them look good. We are the comic relief of humanity.
Angela Olson is a Mammoth Lakes resident.