Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pineapples and Pomegranates, or When Nerds Don't Collide

I was forcefully reminded last night at a work-related event even those who should have everything in common don't always.

TT: That's a weird sentence. Does it make sense to the rest of you?

I was talking to a fellow nerd. I know he's a nerd from previous encounters.

See, nerds have certain innate qualities we recognize in each other. A tendency toward organizing our hobbies (he has a spreadsheet of all the video games he wants to play arranged in order of preference; I have a spreadsheet of FV crops with the same prioritization). An ability to discuss unreal topics to the exclusion of any other real-life event taking place at the moment (such as the 4 people staring at us while we talked about the emergence of the 3-D trend in movies).

Let's just say, nerds have a secret handshake and leave it at that.

He told me he'd been to Comic-Con recently.

"Really? Who were the featured guests? Nathan Fillion?" Why I would think he'd be at a St. Louis Comic Con, I don't know, but a girl can dream.
"Who?" he asked.
"Nathan Fillion. Firefly."
"I don't watch sci-fi."
Evidently. "Okay. How about Castle?"
Blank stare.
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the last season villain?"
"I never got into that show."
What kind of nerd is this guy? "How about Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog? It has Doogie Howser in it."
"Oh, I like Doogie. I've heard he's pretty funny in that."

Deep breath. It is a testimony to my therapist training I didn't wander off at that point and chalk the whole experience up to the "Too Much Work" category.

We kept trying, and finally I let him tell me about his newest love-affair with The Walking Dead and...oh, puckernuts, I can't remember the title of the other. It starts with an "I." Interceptor. Interloper. Intruder, maybe. Something like that. The same author wrote both comic books. It sounded kind of interesting, a coming-of-age superhero story.

My point is, even though we're the same type of creature -nerd- our interests and obsessions are totally different. He loves comic books and video games (not FV. I asked). I love fantasy books and TV sci-fi.

But, with a little effort on my part, we still had a good chat about some fairly interesting stuff.

A few years ago, I wouldn't have persevered in the connection process. But an experience with my second dad changed my perspective.

He and I couldn't be more different in our areas of interest. He's a farmer; I'm not. He sells insurance; I don't. He's never read a fantasy book, except the ones Mom has read to him since their marriage.

One day in their kitchen, I was talking about Star Trek. I don't remember the exact topic. He was asking questions about Klingons. It occurred to me this was a man who literally couldn't care less about Klingons, but he was making a real effort to learn about them just because I was interested.
It touched me. It shamed me a bit. I've been trying to follow his example ever since.

Even when a topic has the potential to bore me to death, I now try to find a way to be interested in it. More importantly, I try to find a way to be interested in the person who expresses the interest. That is the point of connection, right? To find common ground with our fellow humans? If some ground is harder to work, perhaps the resulting crop is more satisfying.

2 comments:

  1. OK, this doesn't have anything to do with this blog, but in the blog "Professionalism" you mention your TT and to look at your June blog. I did and I still don't know what TT stands for. I get what it is used for but what does it stand for?

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  2. No, it really doesn't, but when have we stayed on topic? I start the idea in the post "Immortality" from May and spell it out in the post "Prayer Works" from June.
    I don't think I've spelled it out since. Now we'll see how much you care.
    Happy hunting!

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