One of my coworkers told me that I had ‘nerd cred’ the other day, and although it was mostly in regard to my voracious consumption of podcasts (Nerdist, Stuff You Should Know, Radiolab, Freakonomics, Savage Love…I’m addicted, it’s true), I couldn’t help but interpret it as a sort of badge of honor.
When I like something, I tend to like it to extremes. When I want to bake something, I often find a recipe that’s complex and finicky and make the hell out of it, usually over and over again. I taught myself how to knit, and have barely stopped doing it over the past 11 years, usually taking on large and complicated projects that test my sanity several times over. During grade school summers, my brother and I used to dedicate ourselves to beating certain Nintendo and Sega games in record time, bruising our thumbs in the process and taking lots of pictures of the final screens in hopes of one day sending them in to Nintendo Power magazine.
I’ve got an impressive repertoire of musical theatre scores memorized, and I can recite Little Shop of Horrors, Aladdin, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? backward and forward from pretty much any point in the script. I own the full Karate Kid boxed set on DVD, as well as all of Home Movies, the BBC version of The Office, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Arrested Development, and a respectable portion of the Degrassi universe. I have knitted myself, and several others who have asked nicely, Karate Kid headbands.
A large portion of any spare time that I might happen to run across is devoted to catching up with Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, and Cracked, and have been hopelessly devoted to the mastery of Penny Arcade, PvP, Real Life, and xkcd ever since I realized back in the early days that the internet was more than the chat rooms on AOL.
As you can see, my nerd love crosses many boundaries and yet still knows no bounds, and I am not ashamed. In fact, typing it all out seems like it’s just a list of awesome stuff that everyone should like.
Possibly the nerdiest part of my nerd love lies in role-playing games. Despite the plethora of ridiculous titles I just dropped in the previous paragraph, I bet some of you just had a moment at their mere mention. Even the nerdiest of the nerdy think that playing D&D is just plain too much.
These people are wrong.
How can the sight of this complicated-looking paperwork not make someone blithely happy? Crazy people…
I started playing D&D with one of my best friends, TJ, when I visited him in Boulder after Hurricane Katrina. I’d be staying there while a session would be in progress, and I could either sit it out and drink wine, or jump in and play, and still be able to drink some wine. Guess which one I picked.
Before the hurricane, I had merely dallied about in the role-playing universe with very little commitment to anything in particular. I had played my fair share of Final Fantasy, helped friends paint Warhammer armies, and played a few rounds of Heroquest. However, writing my character’s intensely complicated backstory with TJ on that very first night (fueled by more wine, of course) opened my brain up to a new, ridiculously geeky universe of which I have yet to take my fill.
I played with the same core group of people in Boulder the entire 5 1/2 years that I lived there, and to leave it behind was more difficult than I thought it would be. I have D&D to thank for my entire relationship with the love of my life (no, he doesn’t play, unfortunately, but was the friend of a friend who did, and we’d have never met otherwise, being from opposite sides of the country and all).
Last year, TJ wrote an amazing one-man show about how awesome the entire experience is, and I teared up the first time that I read it because he stated it much better than I ever could. It’s not just about pretending to be a hero for a few hours. It’s about having a great time with your friends and being intensely interested in the same insane things and not having anyone judge you about it for a few hours. And also killing dragons. What more could a theatre nerd want?
Since moving, we have made it a point to still get together once a month to slay our monsters through the beauty of technology. I used to always contribute dessert to our get-togethers, and this week was no exception. Delicious little lemon sugar cookies, specially designed to assist with devastating monsters, from everybody likes sandwiches (she’s going to think I’m stalking her with how often I link to her recipes!) went through the mail and found their way to the battle map.
See! There they are! Along with my super nerdy loot and hit points Excel spreadsheet.
While my loved ones and fellow adventurers enjoyed their cookies, I settled in with my spell list…
…and some wine (are we noticing a pattern here?)…
…and tore up some Skinwalkers! And various other sundry baddies.
And it was awesome. There’s a little lost in the translation, but what always makes these evenings so great — the friends, the jokes, the joy of the experience — is all still there. I can’t wait until next month.