I’ve been a geek all my life.
I’d like to clarify that I’m referring to the current definition of ‘geek’, as in “a socially awkward oddball who thinks too much”; not “a sideshow performer who bites the head off live chickens” (which was what the word meant when I was young).
I have never bitten, and with any luck will never bite, the head off a live animal of any sort. Chocolate animals? Oh hell yes! Cooked animals? Maybe… though I’d likely use a knife or cleaver or some other suitable implement instead of my teeth…
There I go again. Over-thinking. Over-clarifying.
Even as a child, I couldn’t grasp why people didn’t simply say what they meant. When the teacher asked, “Does anyone know the answer?”, I never understood why she apparently stopped being able to see my wildly-waving hand after I’d answered the first few questions correctly.
When the other girls assured me, “Of course we’re still friends!” and then never spoke to me again, I just… didn’t get it. There’s something to be said for being completely oblivious to social cues. I thought I had lots of friends, and it was sheer coincidence that I never got invited to anything.
The rest of the world doesn’t understand that geeks take words at face value. A classic geek joke goes like this: A software engineer was found dead of starvation in his shower. Preliminary investigation suggests that he was following the instructions on the shampoo bottle: “Lather, rinse, repeat.”
This joke is funny and sad on two levels: 1) You have to be a bit of geek to get it; and 2) If you are a bit of a geek, there’s probably some small part of you that’s thinking, “You know, that makes perfect sense…”
Another diabolical geek trap is the phrase casually bandied about by normal human beings: “Suggestions are welcome”.
Hint for the geeks in the audience: No. No, they’re not. One suggestion is welcome. Maybe two, tops. If it’s your personal responsibility to resolve the issues, you might be allowed three suggestions. Presenting twenty pages of closely-spaced bullet points will only end in annoyance for you when you realize that your listeners’ eyes glazed over after the first two points and their minds are now fully occupied by desperate escape plans.
Another hint for geeks: If your listener is gripping a letter opener with whitening knuckles, it’s time for you to leave. Lingering to make sure they grasped the subtle nuances of item 22.214.171.124(b) will only result in bloodshed; and that gets awkward for everybody. For one thing, stab wounds hurt. For another, if your listener decides to commit hara-kiri instead of attacking you, it’s very difficult to explain to the police. (Don’t ask how I know these things.)
Anyway, after 50-odd… okay; very odd years, I honestly thought I had this stuff all figured out. (Note: All geeks think this. They’re always wrong.)
But then I went for physiotherapy a few years ago. The physiotherapist said, “Keep your legs straight and touch your toes.” So I did. It hurt like a bitch. But she hadn’t said, “… and tell me if it hurts”, so I didn’t mention it. I threw away a lot of money on physiotherapy before I grasped that little detail.
But I’ve got it all figured out now. Really, I do…
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P.S. Book 13, “Once Burned, Twice Spy” is now available for pre-order at all retailers (click here for links)… except, for some unknown reason, the Amazon international sites. Amazon.com is up, but none of the other countries are showing the listing. Grrr! I’ve submitted a trouble ticket to Amazon and hope to have the problem resolved shortly. To everyone who received the pre-order announcement and can’t buy from the Amazon of their choice: I’m sorry about this. I’ll send an updated announcement as soon as the pre-orders are up in all countries.