I’m a nerd, and a geek. So is Certain Someone. It’s the best time I ever had with anyone.
Most people agree geeks and nerds are kind of the same thing. They’re not, really, but they share many similarities.
First, they’re usually pretty intelligent. Second, they tend to like things that aren’t mainstream. Third, they may or may not be socially awkward. Sometimes at a sci-fi/fantasy convention, it’s hard to tell.
It is possible to be both a nerd and a geek. While geek is a term used to label someone with superficial pop culture interests as opposed to more upper-level intellectual pursuits like nerds, just because you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer doesn’t mean your IQ is in the lower percentile. You can still be a microbiologist who thinks Buffy kicks ass.
If your family member is a nerd
A brother, sister or even a parent may be a nerd. In my family, I’m the only person who reads Harry Potter, who gets anything about current video games (except maybe my nephew) and knows who Frodo, Elrond, Glorfindel, and Tom Bombadil are. I’m still learning about the games, thanks to CS, but new stuff keeps your brain in shape.
If your family member is like me, embrace this person. Do not try to make her be something she is not. She thinks fashion is trivial—so what? Look for other common interests. Almost everyone has something, even if it’s only making fun of Aunty Myrtle with the hairy mole.
If your child is a nerd
You know it’s always good to encourage your child’s interests, right? I would kill for a kid that liked science and grew up to work for NASA or the CDC. Talk about built-in source material! Okay, that’s a writer nerd talking. But still.
You may have dreamed of a buddy to shoot hoops with, but if your kid is a music nerd who is only interested in the cello, PLEASE don’t make him feel bad for it. Use this as an opportunity to expand your own horizons. Ask him something about what he’s interested in. Kids absolutely love it when they get to tell adults stuff. And you might learn something from him.
If your spouse / significant other is a nerd
Harry Potter, marine biology, computers; whatever her main interest, it’s not going to be a surprise to you if you married her. It might even be her career. She’ll have cool stories. She can fix your machine. A brainy chick is sexy. But you’re smart enough to know that. Right?
NEVER EVER EVER make fun of her for being intelligent. It makes you look like a dumbass, which you are if you do this.
Wives / girlfriends, you may not appreciate your nerd’s large collection of Star Wars figures, but if he’s hoarding you have issues I won’t cover here. All that passion can be channeled toward you if you know how to work it. Nerds often make fantastic boyfriends / husbands, because they are so damn happy to have someone who really gets them.
If you’re still engaged, be advised. Never marry a man thinking you’ll change him. Rough edges can be polished but a nerd will always be a nerd. Don’t like it? GTFO and leave him to someone who will appreciate him.
When nerds have a birthday or Christmas is coming, they usually let you know EXACTLY what they want. Pay attention to this. Get the junior telescope or regulation Jedi Master outfit from the website your kid has emailed you 47,000 times.
Don’t buy your nerd something you think he should have, unless your son has completely outgrown his underwear and his face is turning purple from the constriction. Anyway, underwear makes a lousy gift. Something practical yet cool will be appreciated, if he hasn’t gotten around to getting it himself.
Accepting a gift from a nerd
If the gift is nerdy, like a paleontology kit from the Nature Store, don’t just pitch it into the closet. Give it a chance. Nerds are smart and observant (most of the time) and yours may have noticed a budding interest you mentioned in passing. You might find you like looking for fossilized dino poo in a box of fake desert.
Sometimes, your nerd may scoff at something you say or a question you ask. Kids especially may do this because they haven’t learned how to navigate social situations with grace and tact. Don’t let him do that. Make it clear to your nerd that just because you don’t know every little nuance of Starship Troopers and have never heard of Robert Heinlein, that doesn’t mean you are stupid.
Nerds are running the world now. As Gilbert in Revenge of the Nerds wisely pointed out to the beautiful people, “There are a lot more of us than there are of you.” Being a nerd isn’t the stigma it once was. Love your nerd and the rewards will follow!