How to Be a Nerd without Anybody Knowing about It

Kids, let me tell you a story:

Once upon a time, there were kids in school who did better than other kids. Some of those kids worked hard for their grades, spent whole afternoons memorizing pages upon pages of information they would never again use (or remember) after the next test. Some of those kids really didn’t try very hard. They would skim through their books in 30 minutes and get praised by their teachers and hated by their colleagues. These kids would rather spend their afternoons doing more interesting and valuable things, such as watching sappy Japanese cartoons. Both of these categories are nerds. I’ll get back to this.

Yeah, well… That happens the world over, so what’s so special, you ask? Well, the perspective. Here in Romania you do not (not in your school years, anyway) adopt and identify with this “nerd” status. You get branded with it and it’s not pretty. It all starts in junior high (fifth grade over here), ’cause up to that point all kids do kinda try to do well in school because they want to impress the big people. However, once puberty sets in and there are more interesting things to do than homework, kids begin putting themselves and others into categories.

But how? Unfortunately, here, this has more to do with the parents’ social status, than the kids’ actual identity. A rich kid who does well in school will never be considered a nerd. A poor kid who does well in school, but shares homework with the rich kids will never be called a nerd (to his/her face). A poor kid who does not do well in school had better have other qualities, because no one will pay attention to him/her otherwise (these guys have a sad fate most of time).  Basically, a poor kid who does well in school is a nerd. Because poor kids’ parents do not have money to buy them nice clothes and cars and scooters. Poor kids don’t go on class trips, they don’t have rich cousins abroad (or outside as we so lovingly call abroad in Romania), and on top of that they have the nerve to not feel so bad about it, because, smart as they are, they see a way out: it’s called learning. I’m generalizing, I know, but these are kids, they have simple minds.

The Romanian word for nerd (tocilar) refers to someone who learns everything by heart, does not have a life outside of school, kisses the teachers’ asses incessantly, knows the answers to all the questions in class, and is poor. It is used as an insult, not as praise. The concept excludes the idea of intelligence and logical thought.

See? Perspective.

Then these kids grow up. Now this could be the part where I rant about the nerdy kids making it in life while the popular kids end up losers, but that would be untrue and immature. Kids with rich parents will always do all right in life, because they have rich parents. And while they may have many qualities, and they do, rich parents are their main asset and a pretty powerful tool in post-Communist societies. The nerds will do well in life, better than the popular kids who are stuck in small towns, because daddy gives/gets them a job and they don’t look further. It’s just, well… it takes us longer.

And then we can buy nice clothes, actually get some sense of style (hey, it comes with practice, give us a break!), get a nice practical car (cos a Lamborghini on Romanian roads is simply a waste), travel the world for business and pleasure, marry and produce nerdy offspring. And nobody in our new life will ever know our pain and shame of having our intelligence insulted at the tender age of 11. Hell, we may even forget ourselves. After all, a grown-up who still sobs about what the other kids did to him/her in school is pretty pathetic.

Then we go to our 10-year reunions and see that even though we are now smart, successful, and stylish, we are still considered nerds. Because the popular kids’ glory days were in highschool, so they refuse to move on.

This is a simplistic categorization, but you see my point.

Welcome to my blog. Don’t expect too much nerdy stuff around here. In fact, don’t expect anything at all. Now go out and play. Or get laid. Or read a book.