Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dale probes the roots of his nerd-rage, works on self-improvement, and eats soup

What is wrong with me?

There I was in the common room of the Holiday Inn Express that is my home for the next two days. Popular for their free hot breakfasts, this one does something I haven't seen before: At 5:00 they put out a cheese and crackers platter and two kinds of soup. Today's choices were gumbo and broccoli with cheese. So, as you can imagine, the place was PACKED. I mean, free gumbo, are you kidding me?

I sat alone with my little paper bowl and my plastic spoon, thinking about the fact that life doesn't get any better than this, and started listening in on the conversation at the table next to me. I couldn't help it because, one, they were pretty loud and, two, they were talking about movies.

Now I am famously dickish when it comes to movie conversations. I admit it and accept that this is just one of the many ways that I can be an asshole. I am aware of this, and am working hard to conquer this articular shortcoming. As Jules in Pulp Fiction would say, I’m trying, Ringo. I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd. Perhaps in some future post I'll discuss my dickishness at length, but for now I'll just stick to the movies.

Now, these people weren't committing any particularly heinous sins. Nobody in their group praised the work of Michael Bay or Uwe Boll (Yes, I put those two in the same sentence - Boll fucking deserves it). Nobody made that speech about not liking subtitled movies because they "just want to shut off their brains and enjoy the movie". And not one of them mentioned 3D being the saviour of the film industry.

No, their sin was not any sort of wild declaration that offended my soul both as a movie lover and as a human being. Their sin? They said things that were wrong. And not even horribly wrong. One of the women said that she didn't think the remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was worth seeing because Hollywood remakes suck. Now under any normal circumstances I would have smiled quietly to myself and withheld the compulsion to go over and hug her. Because for the most part I completely agree with her. Plus she demonstrated knowledge that a foreign film actually exists, so bonus points.

Under normal circumstances.

In this case though, I just wanted to barge over there; not to hug her, but to announce that it's "not a Hollywood film, it's a David Fincher film!" (Interesting side note - when I thought it, I could hear myself saying it in my own rich baritone voice. But seeing it typed out I can only hear it in the voice of The Simpsons' Comic Book Guy. I am a sad sad man.) I also wanted to ask her if she was nervous that the horrible, upsetting rapes would be too toned down for her in the “Hollywood” version. After all, I seem to recall the tagline for the Swedish original was something along the lines of, “Come for the subtitles, but stay for the brutal raping”. Or something like that.

There were a few other moments like that, none of them really worth getting worked up over, but it got me thinking: that kind of opinionated self-righteousness is a true nerd characteristic. Which becomes even clearer when you can suddenly hear your own words coming out of the mouth of Comic Book Guy. Why the hell was I so bothered by the conversation of those nice people? Maybe it was because they had the nerve to not only exclude me from their conversation, but to not even have the courtesy to consult me before making statements about movies! Are we as nerds so touchy about having our opinions disagreed with that we even get angry at people who not only don’t even realize they’re disagreeing with us, but don’t even know we exist (and are eavesdropping on their conversation)?

Probably not. It’s probably just me.

But since I’m all about self-improvement ( mainly in an attempt to no longer alienate an ever-increasing number of friends and relations), I held my tongue and finished my soup. There’s a lesson there that we all need to learn from time to time. As Emily Post might very well have said, sometimes the best thing you can do is shut the fuck up, finish your soup, and scurry back to your room.


  1. You had me at "what is wrong with me?" There is nothing wrong with you young man. It's them, not us.

  2. I really enjoyed this post Dale! I find myself biting my tongue in the same way very often - mostly when I hear people talking about comic books, superheros, and, yes, Star Wars. Perfectly nice people. Perfectly nice conversations. My urge doesn't ususally come with anger at their misconceptions (okay, maybe a little bit), but with a deep desire to help and, perhaps more importantly, to share my enthusiasm with regard to these topics. Regardless, in those moments where I have sucked it up and inserted myself into the conversation, the result is the same as if I had started making loud declarative statements about how wrong they are - they look at me like I'm a stranger who has, apropos of nothing, inserted myself into a conversation that had nothing to do with me. So, we're damned if we do and if we don't...