The Invisible Horror

Part of my job is making salespeople comfortable as they sell. Some time later in the process I switch roles, and it becomes my responsibility to make clients comfortable as our products and services are delivered. An awful lot of our sales force and clients are female, but our staff is almost exclusively male…nerdy male. In the middle of this triangle is me. I’m the guy who tells them we can do it fast, cheap, or good, but they can only pick two. Whichever one we agree to skimp on will be the sore spot, and one of the main things I do is to soothe those spots is banter and play.

Today I took a circuit of the project site with a saleswoman. She’s an aging careerist; married but no kids, attractive for her age, and quite non-technical. Neither does she possess an ounce of bitterness, so she’s a joy to work with. She heavily relies on me, and makes no bones about it–which is refreshing because some of the salesmen who posture as technical know-it-alls can make my job pretty difficult.

She’s also a bit of a fitness freak, and so when we had to choose between three flights of stairs or the escalator she said, “Let’s take the stairs! I have to get my steps in!”

“Are you serious? I get winded on the elevator.”

“Oh come on. You’ve been working out.”

“Oh, yes. Two whole days. And I’m sore.”

She beamed a smile, and we started up the stairs. I’m a tall fellow, and these stairs–like most I encounter–are half a size too small, so I take take them two at a time. She’s Miss Peppy Stairmaster, so she pranced up pretty quickly behind me. We weren’t racing, but when we got to the top, I said (between thinly veiled gasps), “Look, I’m fine taking the stairs as long as I win. Which I’m going to. So, you know, you might as well get used to losing.”

She laughed and said, “Well, I was right earlier, and you were wrong, so this makes up for it.”

“Why you gotta bring up old stuff?”

“That’s not old-“

“Yes it is. Now: let’s talk about me winning again.”

She laughed again. “You’re so competitive. My husband is too.”

“Of course. That’s how our ancestor survived.”

“Ok, well, I don’t have to race you then.”

“Good, because it would be awkward explaining to HR why I tackled you on a staircase.”

Not too long later we came to another set of stairs and as soon as I opened my mouth to make a joke she bolted her Fit-Bug-wearing stretchy-pants butt up those steps. I had no choice but to bound after her, and only just barely beat her to the top. We were both laughing and gasping.

“I thought we weren’t racing?”, I struggled to say.

“Yes, I know!”

“You’re a tricky dame.”

“Yes, I am!”

Even though she is by far the more fit between the two of us, we were both happy that I won. It never occurred to her that she should win; only that it wouldn’t be any fun if she didn’t try. She was much more interested in the race itself, than in the winning. For her it was a thing to do together. Almost coincidentally does someone reach the top first. Meanwhile, I’m trying to avoid a minor crisis of manhood.

Besides, nerdy teen girls who are at least a little bit cute have never had it as bad as nerdy teenage boys, have they?

If you want to talk about a girl who is insecure and shy, and maybe she is into anime or j-pop–you have to say “nerdy girl”. There are a lot of problems that can go with being a nerdy girl, but that’s not really what I want to talk about.

To reference a wide spectrum of socially awkward or peculiar boy with quirky habits: You just say “nerd”. There’s no need to append a language unit denoting the owners genitalia. Why bother? Who wants to use them?

Let’s make this shorter. Nerdy girls are really:

(nerdy) GIRLS.

Nerdy boys are:

NERDS.

They are the thing–the horror itself–that a (nerdy) girl can sort-of, kind-of resemble. There is an earnestness of intent to boys that is usually not manifested in girls. Girls like sci-fi because others like sci-fi; boys like it despite the fact others don’t. Girls watch anime because a father, older sibling, or friends watch anime, and they want to talk about anime with them. They do like anime in and of itself, and left alone would still watch it, but it doesn’t define them as a person to the extent that they build their wardrobe around it, and resent any intrusion into their anime space. A nerdy girl will get excited to see someone else read her favorite comic, and can base a friendship off of it.

A nerdy boy is more likely to feel threatened, thinking: “Who told him about my secret favorite comic? I doubt he even knows why it’s good.” If he has any desire to interact at all, some of that urge will be to test whether the other fellow is worthy to aspire to such secret delights. Should two nerds meet over a sci-fi movie or a Civil War re-enactment they will test each others’ knowledge of the fictitious universe, or discernment of 1863 flannels from the “clearly different” 1864 version.*

The Nerd wants to win at reading comic-books.

Which is to desire the comic so much that he fundamentally misses the point of them. Even nerdy girls are going to see this as a sort of sickness because applying alpha competitiveness to things that are clearly nerdiful is just strange to the rest of society. It’s going to come across as desperate; maybe even perverse. He will seem like a person who fundamentally misses the point not only of sci-fi movies, but people. You simply don’t risk this while racing chicks up the stairs. The earnestness is just as misplaced, but the social acceptance covers it up. Even better if you can be self-deprecating or agree-and-amplify the ridiculousness unto the absurd…which it is.

This comes more clearly into focus when you call a boy a nerd. It is this concept of fundamentally misunderstanding people to which we hearken when we call boys nerds, or geeks, or similar pejoratives. In the instances when we apply the name to women it is almost always in the “nerdy girl” sense that still recognizes her humanity. At the very least they have breasts and butts and all sorts of goodies with which to remind me. A girl may walk up to me as a nerd, but she almost always walks away as an ass.

That’s a much better fate than the boy who turns invisible.

*Completely made up reference. I couldn’t even say if flannel existed then.

46 Responses to The Invisible Horror

  1. Zippy says:

    If I’d written this post it would probably read in its entiriety: “Nerdiness doesn’t kill a woman’s attractiveness, but it does kill a man’s”, hah.

    I talked about nerdiness as attraction-killer in men here.

  2. Velvet says:

    Flannel has been around as long as textile fibers have been carded.

    So does nerd status require a stem component ? Or do the renfest types simply qualify as geeks?

  3. Morticia says:

    A lot of nerd girls are *trying* to be invisible. Their thoughts look something like this:

    Stop looking at my ass.

    Well..ok you can look.

    No you can’t, I’m a lady!

    Why would you look at my ass..don’t you know there are better asses?

    To be, or not to be..objectified. That is the question of much angst in lady circles. It is that thing that we want while we don’t want it. That thing that if we don’t get it we are offended, and if we do we are offended.

  4. joanna says:

    Interesting point about nerd and nerdy girl. I know that I followed my husband into whatever nerdiness I may have. I was so hot for him that I role played Star Wars and LOTR when he asked me to. I played a MMORPG with him, all things my aforementioned friend could never convince me to do, because he was too much of a nerd. My husband on the other hand, tempered his nerdiness with 10-mile runs after which he would visit me and waft his pheromones everywhere.

    You’re right, Cane, I’m not a nerd(y girl); I’m just interested in a few nerdy things.

  5. Girls like sci-fi because others like sci-fi; boys like it despite the fact others don’t.

    Imagine the things that this says about some women in the sphere, and the things they like.
    So strong and independent, so boldly different. But why?

    Yours is a good answer.

  6. Flannel was made in bulk quantities, indirectly, using the proceeds from Mr. Milliken’s ship load of Irish potatoes circa 1865, all he had remaining to his name after his hardware store went bust. His entry to textiles is stuff of legend, contemporary and 19th century legend.

  7. Morticia says:

    You guys insist on seeing everything a woman does as a desperate puppy following you home.

    We are not desperate for a home so we are not following every handsome stranger around hoping to cuddle in their armchair.

    Actually..the simplest answer for why girls act like girls is the one immortalized by Cyndi Lauper. We just wanna have fun.

  8. eh, …. not puppy following dynamic, thats not whats happening. Though ultimately it is following behavior, and of course nawalt (maybe)

  9. Cane Caldo says:

    @Zippy

    If I’d written this post it would probably read in its entirety: “Nerdiness doesn’t kill a woman’s attractiveness, but it does kill a man’s”

    Ha! It’s my style to talk about a subject; to lay out the boundaries of it; rather than try to distill the essence of it right away. Then I try to insert some sort of proverb, or haiku-like statement as a takeway. In this case: “A girl may walk up to me as a nerd, but she almost always walks away as an ass. That’s a much better fate than the boy who turns invisible.”

    Yes, I remember. That was a good post.

    @SV

    Flannel has been around as long as textile fibers have been carded.

    I suppose that would be proof it’s of age. (rimshot!)

    So does nerd status require a stem component ? Or do the renfest types simply qualify as geeks?

    The renfest folks are probably dorks, but I’m not a STEM guy myself so I’m not too keen distinguishing. Things get lost in translation from this borderline E-I/iNtuituve/F-T/P-J to real INTJs. (See my comment to Zippy.) In this, other men should be more like me if they want to be attractive like me…whatever that is worth.

    @Morticia

    You’re getting ahead of my game, again, but it’s not about trying to be invisible–as the waffling desires show.

  10. Morticia says:

    I guess this is why my husband was not jealous by the top 10 list. He knows I am happy in his armchair but he also knows that if he doesn’t let me out to run every now and then I get angsty and start to chew on his slippers.

    Females have a need for frivolty the way guys need recreation. We both need play..we just play in very different ways. You guys play in the woods in -20degree weather covered in deer pee hoping to score a large animal carcass to bring home on the hood of your car. We chit-chat about everything under the sun and rank it according to appeal while sitting in climate control and drinking our Skinny Girl cocktails.

    So if I were following just to follow I’d pretend to like hunting and Team Sports..but I don’t. Usually the case is a boy introduces me to something and I either like it or I don’t. If I like it I run with it..if I don’t I re-read Pride and Prejudice and leave the boys to their play.

  11. Cane Caldo says:

    @Morticia

    Your comment at 1:56pm are answers to two different questions.

  12. Thats why we hang out here Cane….some may rub off

  13. Velvet says:

    Lol I didn’t want to insult you by assuming you didn’t know. I figure all men know everything except how to make sandwiches. Besides I run mom game – “look it up and get back to me” will be written on my tombstone.

  14. Morticia says:

    I read the question as “Why do girls like the manosphere?”
    Emp seemed to be answering “Because the boys are here”

    My answer was “Because its been (mostly) fun…partly because the boys are here but there are other places where boys are that we don’t want to be so it can’t be that simple of an answer.”

  15. Elspeth says:

    Shut up, Jo. Your husband could be a model. Of course you followed him into whatever nerdiness he asked of you.

    I did the same thing, except my husband is way too cool to role play, LOL.

  16. Elspeth says:

    Morticia,

    Your 2:11 comment was very astute. My husband laughed at the top 10 list, too. One of the reasons I got exasperated with the mommy blogging way back when was that the women often tend to take themselves too seriously. And you know Mort, if I think that, it’s saying something.

    The men are just more interesting to read. With the exception of Joanna, all of the women I have maintained online relationships with have been those I encountered in this sphere.

  17. Morticia says:

    @Elspeth
    I laughed. .

    It is also why I don’t bother trying to be taken serious as a thinker or a writer. I can’t be that serious all the time..it would kill me. V just warned me my blood sugar can’t handle stress but I am fairly certain it is more in peril if I suppress my humor.

  18. joanna says:

    @E – ROTFL.

    I agree about mommy blogging ladies. Too much drama. Chick should chill out.

  19. Morticia says:

    Cane-
    Your right. It isn’t about being invisible..its about having control of when we are visible and to who we are visible to.

    We want to be visible to the studs and invisible to the scary creeps.

    I think the ones who were like me…not among the most desirable in high school..have a greater fear of attracting the ones we don’t want to attract so we try to be invisible for them while holding out hope that the one we really want will see the diamond in the rough.

  20. Morticia says:

    And to be fair..that does occasionally happen. My husband found me in Battle Dress Uniform. Its not a TOTALLY irrational hope.

  21. joanna says:

    “My husband found me in Battle Dress Uniform.”

    Ditto.

  22. Just saying says:

    “Girls watch anime because [...] they want to talk about anime.”

    I found this interesting because a little over 9 months ago, it was because one of the young ladies that I was interacting with, found anime so enticing, that I got into it. Now I have found it helps to provide a comfort area with several of the women I see regularly. If someone had told me that I would be interacting with the anime/k-pop crowd a year ago I would have said they were crazy. But due to the access this area provides to some of my preferred females, I have found it gives an easy “in” – if you’ll pardon the double entendre…

  23. Elspeth says:

    have a greater fear of attracting the ones we don’t want to attract so we try to be invisible for them while holding out hope that the one we really want will see the diamond in the rough.

    My husband found me against the odds as well, but I was testing my limits for the first time on my own so I was wearing a short skirt.

    That’s doesn’t count does it? Oh, well. I was trying to commiserate.

  24. joanna says:

    Short skirt vs. BDUs. Um…No contest? LOl

  25. Morticia says:

    Joanna- Yes, but did you also have Birth Control Glasses?
    Because those are the real test of a mans xray vision.

    https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQFpzbB7I5ChzCnLKDvQjXfujc2ALD7ayq-l8INvwdaFpFm34lLNA

  26. joanna says:

    OMG! Yes, I did!

  27. GKChesterton says:

    Nerdiness is a sort of monomania. Men are good monomaniacs, but as women aren’t I think most forms of monomania cause them to shut down. This is true even outside of pure “nerdy” pursuits. A doctor could be discussing a critical heart procedure and _most_ women will find somewhere else to be whereas most men will give him a hearing. My wife claims she reads some of my books to put her to sleep (I think she’s actually picked one up once and the copy of a biography of Churchill I got her for Christmas is not doing well). They are interested in whether we are good at the craft, but not the craft itself. This is modulated by how into her man the woman is. Time wears that advantage down though, as usually your wife has harvested the broad bits that’s she’s interested in after the first decade or so.

    My job is to provide the answer that my various mania’s produce. Not to explain how I got there.

    And Cane, you are nerdy, but a very well disciplined nerd. I noticed that you kept down potentially nerdy references in the early conversation and only started using them later on during the dinner. Thou shalt know your audience.

    I do think you overstate competitiveness between men on esoterica. That does happen but I think there is an awful lot of joy in discussing minutia with another expert even if you do test to see if he knows the subject.

  28. Cane Caldo says:

    @GKC

    And Cane, you are nerdy, but a very well disciplined nerd. I noticed that you kept down potentially nerdy references in the early conversation and only started using them later on during the dinner. Thou shalt know your audience.

    On one hand: Yo, y r u cbing?

    On the other hand: Yes, discipline of dress and awareness of environments and targets is key. That is a different post, as I said to Morticia above. (I like some classic nerd things, and some not-so-classic. I tend to dig, conversationally; mining whatever veins I find.)

  29. Morticia says:

    CC would not have made the list if he was not at least a closeted nerd, as us nerd girls are very judgmental towards non-nerds. We think of them as meat-head sheeples. Which we are perfectly willing to objectify but only when they are shirtless.

  30. Cane Caldo says:

    @Morticia

    [U]s nerd girls are very judgmental towards non-nerds. We think of them as meat-head sheeples. Which we are perfectly willing to objectify but only when they are shirtless.

    You say judgmental like you’re disapproving of non-nerds, but all you’ve done is restate the well-known truth. It is referred to as the female penchant for: “Alpha fucks (shirtless appeal) and beta bucks (provide for other needs).” You just said it in a way that you’d like to appear harmless…normal…amoral.

  31. Morticia says:

    I compared two different types of alphas. Eye-candy and brain-candy.

  32. Cane Caldo says:

    Yes, that’s what I said.

    You can only have one candy though.

  33. Morticia says:

    What your comment didn’t seem to recognize is that brain candy is not uh..ahem..that f-word.

  34. Morticia says:

    I am not really concerned with the morality of my statements. Maybe I should be but it doesn’t seem helpful to be disingenuous out of some faux-modesty.

    The fact is that eye-candy is based heavily on novelty. You are a sales guy, right? I don’t have to say that sparkles lose their sparkle. Hence you make the sale quick while the novelty is still pushing the attraction.

    Brain candy is self-regenerating..unlike novelty. The person who can trigger your attraction through only cerebral manipulation is one who is unlikely to lose his sparkle.

    It isn’t a different need than the “alpha-f’s” provide, because the whole point is to find a man who doesn’t bore you to death..and a person who can do that through behavior has stimulated the same response as the one who did it through his good looks.

    I think Tim Tebow is quite handsome but he would probably bore me before I finished my dinner salad…my tingles would wear off on the second date. He is just a bit too …simple… and he would do better with a simple girl rather than a fiercely nerdy emo who has a thing for short guys in suspenders.

  35. Morticia says:

    Why do you always make me write novels in your combox? I just wasted a good blog post.

  36. Cane Caldo says:

    @Morticia

    Why do you always make me write novels in your combox?

    Sparkles do that.

  37. Morticia says:

    Touche.

  38. John says:

    A family with whom we’re friends has a college-age daughter who’s heavily into anime, Korean/Japanese pop, etc. I thought she may be a bit nerdy, but didn’t realize she was the current definition of it. She’s of mixed Asian descent, so that also influences her hobbies.

    I will say, however, that she’s a lot more down-to-earth and easier to talk to than my cheerleading, future-sorority-babe niece.

  39. GKChesteron says:

    Which in the end is one of the best lessons men can learn. They can have their cake (their private pursuits) and eat it to (learn when to shut up).

  40. future-sorority-babe niece

    Like this?

    “Gotta get pro-actiiiiiiiive,…….. my skin was, like, so much sma-OOOOOOOtheeeeerrrr”

    I wish I could link up the you tubes of my 7 year old girl making fun of these slack jawed inflection talkers parroting the ProActive TV ads. Its very funny, objectively so.

  41. Cane Caldo says:

    @John

    Yeah, they usually are–and they’re often better people simply because others aren’t working as hard to corrupt them.

    Even so: Given the choice between a guy with a composite score of nerd score 7/cool score 3 (N7/C3); and a guy N4/C6–she’ll prefer the latter. A N3/C7 probably won’t make the cut, either.

    Don’t focus on the numbers. They’re representative of an idea.

  42. anonymouse says:

    Nerdy guys should be humanely euthanized

  43. Cane, that nomenclature, numbers and letters and combinations and ratios, is interesting, requires a certain nerdy-ness to follow it.

  44. Cane Caldo says:

    @empath

    I’ll remember you said that the next time I wax flowery and poetic–as is my wont–and others cry: “Speak plainly, sir!”

  45. N>5, A/B : [u-uu] , so……no

  46. Pingback: On Nerds « Calculated Bravery

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