For those of you who are newly engaged in a geek relationship, you need to know what I call the Golden Rule as it is the single most important thing to understand in your relationship: a true geek stands at the intersection of nerd and artsy. They love whimsy and creation like an artist, but that creation must strictly follow specific rules and algorithms (nerd). Knowing this will not only help you understand their frustration when a movie misrepresents mythology or technology, it will help you avoid being placed in a magical coma within five minutes of a D&D game with his/her friends.
Here are a few common applications of The Golden Rule:
1. Strict adherence to fantasy folklore.
Geeks love Dungeons & Dragons, because it is the epitome of the Golden Rule. Their love of this game has given them a passion and sense of duty to fiercely protect the folklore associated with the game.
Here are a few examples of folklore fails that have upset my geek husband over the years:
- Mispronouncing chimera. It’s Kih-MARE-uh, not CHIM-uruh. I deliberately mispronounce it, but we’ve been together for over 16 years. Mocking is allowed, and actually encouraged in geek culture – just be sure the other person knows you’re mocking them and not being an idiot.
- Willy-nilly unicorn rides. We watched “The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe” in the theaters. When they began the big battle scene, the older boy hopped up on a unicorn. Beside me, I hear a low but pronounced, “grrrrrrr…” I lean over to Chris and whisper, “what??” He grumbled back, “only female virgins can ride unicorns.”
Amusing side note: I read somewhere that Tolkein and Lewis were friends. Despite their friendship, Tolkein would get royally pissed at Lewis for not following folklore rules. Paraphrased, Tolkein would grumble at him, “Gah! You can’t do that! Fauns don’t do those things!” to which Lewis would respond, “Dude. It’s fiction. They do whatever I write.” Tolkein? Geek. Lewis? Free-flowing hippie artist.
Also along the unicorn line of thinking…
- Pegacorns. As best I can tell, there is no folklore violation more egregious than the presence of a Pegacorn. What is a Pegacorn, you ask? It is a unicorn with wings. Because you see, unicorns didn’t have wings. Yeah, yeah, I know – unicorns didn’t exist, why get picky over adding wings? Just go with it. For fun, draw a Pegacorn and hand it to your geek while stating cheerfully, “look! I drew you a unicorn!” Watch his face. That look? That look right there? That’s the tennis match in his mind – on one side, his newfound concern over your incompatibility with him; the other side? The fact that you could/have/will continue to get naked in front of him. Don’t be alarmed, because naked always wins (a different rule in Geek Relationship, but I’m getting ahead of myself here).
2. Strict adherence to technology rules
When with your geek, avoid shows like CSI, where a tech can take a grainy, low-resolution image and turn it into a high-definition image. They hate that. An old show that has a Mac laptop and a Windows OS? Oh, hell no. A DOS prompt on top of Mac OS, running on an Amiga?!? Their head will explode. Soooo egregious. They also really hate shows and movies that don’t truly “get” Geek Culture. Conversely, if a show or movie gets the technology wrong, but gets the culture right, geeks tend to be very forgiving. As an example, see “Sneakers” or “Real Genius.”
3. Adherence to time travel rules
Quick lesson on everything you need to know about time travel: paradox. Per dictionary.com, the third definition of paradox is actually definition #1 for geeks: “any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature.” See, paradox, when in the context of time travel, is the contradiction that is caused when one goes back in time, fucks up some shit, and it makes their present impossible. Think of Terminator 2. They changed the future, and by changing the future, it made history different for MacGuyvery Mullet-Man, therefore making his present false. By making his present false, the knowledge he gave to Sara Connor was false. If his present was false, how could he know the things he knows and go back in time to make a baby with Sarah Connor? Without that baby there’d be no John Connor, and with no John Connor, there’s no resistance and no picture of Sarah Connor for MacGuyvery Guy to perv on while he’s fighting terminators. Paradox. So why do geeks love T2? Two things – one? Special effects. Two? There’s a way around this paradox thing. See, time is not linear. The theory is when one goes back in time, they are jumping to a different “line” if you will, so from that moment where they jumped back to and going forward there are two separate realities existing at the same time. So there could in theory be two of you, and this is just one reality. Mind blown? Bored? Ok, if you want an entertaining read that explains this well, read Michael Crichton’s “Timeline.” Crichton? Total Geek. Except for that racist book about how the Japanese were going to take down America in a Sony-built spaceship. Or something like that. Moving on…
4. Dislike of Fibonacci numbers.
Now, on the surface, you would think a geek would appreciate the Fibonacci sequence – it is a number sequence that follows a specific rule and it makes beautiful things in nature as well as art. Early in our relationship, I casually asked Chris, “name something that really bothers you.”
He paused for a moment to think. In this pause, I thought of his possible answers to this question – ignorance, hypocrisy, manipulation, Pegacorns… he finally responded. “Fibonacci numbers.”
I laughed a little. “Why?”
“Each number depends upon the previous two numbers in the sequence – there is no reason for their existence beyond that.”
Okay, I think Chris can lean a bit strong on the “nerd” side.
So there you have it; The Golden Rule of Geek Culture. If you’re thinking, “TL;DR,” well, you’re kind of a geek yourself, aren’t you? And stop with that shit. Spell things out once in a while – you’re not a 14 year-old girl texting her BFF. If you’re thinking, “this is a lot of information to absorb,” well, just remember that no matter the gaffe, no matter the misunderstanding: naked always wins.