NERDS

NERDS

From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Love & Friendship

Nerds

It’s not cool to be a nerd. You get teased a lot. You get picked last in gym class. You don’t get invited to the cool parties. I realize that Bill Gates has committed the ultimate revenge of the nerds by taking over the world, but even having a multi-billionaire poster boy to represent us doesn’t really help when you’re not part of the cool scene.

But at least I’m not alone. I have my friend Dave. You can probably survive almost any experience—however humiliating or degrading—if you have someone to share it with. Junior high for Dave and I was like spending a few years in a foxhole together. There was constant combat, we always had to be on the defensive, and we never knew when the “cool” people might strike.

Dave and I met in seventh grade on the nerd mobile, the school bus. We live near each other, which is far from school. This afforded us a lot of time to try to plot our own “revenge.” Of course, we never have carried out any of our elaborate, nonviolent schemes. But it’s fun to imagine the looks on everyone’s faces when they report for roll call at gym only to find their gym shoes Krazy-glued in place, or for everyone to show up at the gym for the big pep rally only to find the doors Krazy-glued shut. For some reason our schemes always seem to involve Krazy glue—don’t ask me why.

Dave’s a bit louder than me. I tend toward the quiet side. We both share a love of conspiracy theories. We’ve both seen every episode of The X-Files. Dave’s a little more into it than I am. He sort of believes everything has some hidden meaning. Not in a freaky weird way—well, I guess maybe a little freaky—but not enough to scare anyone. Dave’s a little bigger than me. We’re sort of a Laurel and Hardy pair—I’m the skinny nerd and Dave’s the chubby one. You’ve seen us. Every school has a set. I’m always trying to get Dave to eat a little less, and he’s always trying to get me to eat a little more. But most importantly, we share the ultimate common bond—neither one of us is cool. I don’t know exactly what it is that separates the “cool” from the “nerd.” Okay, so I’m not so great at sports and I always get A’s in English. Is that a crime?

We spend about half our time wishing we could be cool and the other half making fun of the cool people. It just seems better somehow to be one of them instead of one of us. I’ve heard all the stuff about how having to work harder for something builds character. And I’ve seen all the movies where the nerdy guy gets the girl in the end because the cool guy turns out to be a big jerk. But that’s not how it seems to work out in real life. Dave and I like to talk about our fantasies—like what if there was some sort of natural disaster, like lightning struck the school and everyone was trapped, and only we could figure out how to save everyone because we were smarter than they were. And then they would be so grateful to us that we would inherit the cool throne. Those opportunities don’t come up too often. It’s kind of like pretending what it would be like if you won the lottery and thinking about all the cool things you could buy.

Well, one day we sort of did win the lottery. Dave and I are both into comedy, so we’re always acting out scenes from our favorite shows. Most of the time, people think we’re nuts, but they pretty much think that anyway, so we might as well have fun. We were at lunch doing a scene from our all-time favorite movie, American Pie: after Jim’s dad catches him, you know, with the pie. We were totally cracking each other up. I was Jim, and Dave played Jim’s dad. It just sort of spontaneously happened. Dave and I were talking about the movie, and all of a sudden we were doing the scene and reciting the lines.

We were eating our lunch in this big outdoor area we call the “graveyard” because it has these big rocks you can sit on that sort of look like gravestones. It sounds a little creepy, but when everyone calls it that and you go there every day, it sort of stops being creepy. Anyway, we were totally into it and didn’t notice anyone else was around.

I was acting embarrassed and Dave, as Jim’s dad, was acting, well, like Jim’s dad. Acting embarrassed kind of comes easy to me, so I guess it was method acting on my part. We got to the end of the scene and suddenly there was a round of applause. We both looked up, and it was all girls. And not just any girls—Heather and Megan and Courtney—the cool girls. Our first reaction was, of course, that they were mocking us.

But somehow the Earth must have begun spinning backward on its axis or the gravitational pull of the sun had suddenly stopped because we were being acknowledged, and not in the form of having our lockers TP’d or getting a Melvin. They were genuinely laughing. Heather said, “You guys are great. How do you remember all that stuff?” And Megan chimed in with, “That’s so cool; it’s like watching the movie.” We just stood there with our mouths open. There was nothing left to do but start the band-camp scene. I played Jim again, and Dave put aside his self-pride and took on the role of the band-camp girl. We still had the rhythm, and the girls didn’t leave. They kept laughing. “Do the scene where Stiffler’s mom comes in,” one of them squealed.

Although our moment in the sun seemed to go on for hours, it was interrupted about two seconds later when Heather’s and Megan’s and Courtney’s boyfriends showed up. “What is this, a dweebathon?” they asked. The six of them left, but not before the girls turned back and smiled at us. Dave and I had a moment.

I don’t think anything’s changed as a result. Of course, Dave and I have memorized all the dialogue from both American Pie movies now. “Band camp from Pie 2, you say?” We take our little show on the road every day at lunch, but it’s hard to recreate the magic. We just keep hoping. We still have to ride the bus to school every day. We still get picked last and second-to-last for softball, touch football, volleyball, soccer, field hockey, basketball, foosball . . . you get the idea. I’m still getting an A in English.

Yet something is different. We had a moment of glory. We were out there, exposed for all the world to see, and the world recognized us. Well, not exactly the world, but CHEERLEADERS!

We don’t have to wonder anymore what it is like to be cool. Okay, five minutes of being cool does not a cool person make. We’d still like to be cool all the time. But having that moment, and having it together, was this great experience that we shared. We don’t have to spend our time wondering, and we both know what we are capable of. That should at least get us through sophomore year.

Owen Rosen

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