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The Makings of a Nerd


Thanksgiving is coming up upon us, and I can already smell it. If I were part of a more traditional family, I would wait to say my thanks on the actual day of Thanksgiving. But seeing as how we are more than anything an eclectic collection of refugees and perfectionists, I will get it out of the way before then because we don’t give thanks. We may each be quietly thinking our thanks as we eat our mashed potatoes, but there is no great show over it.

On the few occasions that I have gone to someone else’s Thanksgiving, there have been actual moments where everyone at the table will join hands (and it doesn’t matter if you’ve just met the person next to you) and take turns explaining what they are thankful for. In situations such as these, I often find that people hold back on all that they are grateful for, summing it up on their turn with something like, “I am thankful for this wonderful meal and the lovely people I’m about to share it with.” Following suit, I might mention my thanks for the gravy or the great versatility of potato skins. But I probably would not go into detail about what I’m really thankful for.

So here, sans the turkey, the dressing and the plates and plates of sweets that I will eat until it becomes too uncomfortable to sit upright, is an abbreviated version of my Thanksgiving thanks (hold the sentiment). It starts with a recent weekend when my friend Thai and I went out for drinks. We were meeting our friend Vivien who was visiting from out of town. But we weren’t just meeting Vivien. We were meeting Vivien and some of her other friends. Friends Thai and I hadn’t seen since high school, or worse, junior high. “Be cool,” I thought (a thought, I noted, inherently uncool people often chant quietly to themselves).

But the night wasn’t all that bad, and I sipped my drink all cool-like, like “Oohh, look at me! I’m drinking a drink! Through a tiny straw! I have come so far from that 16 year old frizzy haired kid I was!” And then I popped my collar in a burst of Fonz-inspired energy. I was feeling pretty cool, even a bit sophisticated, when one of the guys I hadn’t seen since high school draped an arm around my shoulders. I asked if he remembered me from high school since we didn’t really ever hang out together. I wanted to tell him my name in case he didn’t know it. That way, when we ran into each other in another 8 years, we could say hi and avoid any of that awkwardness that happens when one person forgets the other person’s name.

To my surprise, he said he did remember me.

“Ohh?” I said. I was pleased. Maybe I was more popular than I gave myself credit for. I have always been rather modest.

He added, “Yeah, you were really nerdy. Super nerd! You had those thick glasses!”

“Oh yeah… I did. Are you sure that was me?”

“Yeah, we had history class together. And I think English. And you had those thick glasses — they were so thick!”

I tried to remember if my glasses really were that thick, but all I could conjure up were images of really hip looking plastic rimmed glasses.

“So you thought I was a nerd just because of my glasses?” I asked. I still couldn’t believe that my glasses alone could sway someone’s opinion like that. I mean, I was a nerd, but he could have at least mentioned the fact that I co-founded the recycling club with my cousin Nathalie or that I was vice president of the Math, Engineering, Science Achievement club. But really? Just the glasses? Were we really that shallow in high school? I was a nerd, but at least I was a nerd with some decent nerd street cred.

I was disappointed to find out that my nerd status was bestowed upon me based on my looks alone, but I was happy, thankful even, that high school only lasted for 4 years.

Last modified: January 10, 2019