Character Class: Level 29 Nerd Candy
Weapons of Choice: Snark & A Southern Accent
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away… no, wait, that’s the start of one of the greatest space fantasy epics of all time, not my story. And this is about me. My name is Nicole, though most folks call me Nic. And I was and still am nerd candy.
For the uninformed, nerd candy has a variety of meanings. None of them refer to the Wonka candy that is coated sugar crystals. Mostly it refers to a girl, or in my case a woman, who gatekeeper nerd boys allow to be a part of nerd/geek culture without actually allowing them to actively participate because they want to fantasize about them and say that they do in fact know girls when their told that they can’t get any action. Her job is to be a bit of window dressing. She’s meant to sit there and look pretty. It helps if she knows a little about nerdy things because then she can marvel at what the guys know and do. Someone has to clap and cheer when one of the boys beats the others and then proceeds to crouch over their fallen friends repeatedly to shame them. That’s why she’s allowed to sit in on things. She’s a trophy, not a person. She’s what you get when you win the game. The label has such a negative connotation. But it doesn’t have to. SO, ARMED WITH RAZOR-SHARP SNARK AND A DECEPTIVELY SOFT SOUTHERN ACCENT, I’M TAKING IT BACK.
A Story About Becoming Nerd Candy
It took several years for me to become nerd candy, and even then I didn’t realize it. I was a nerd girl before it was cool. It sounds like such a hipster thing to say, but it’s true. I was a geek girl before fake geek girls were openly mocked. I suppose I just predate a minor bit of unpleasant nerd related misogyny. Wow, now my late twenties feel incredibly old.
Before the nerd closet was open, the mere mention of anything geeky or nerdy was like Kryptonite. No one would have anything to do with anyone who was even remotely interested in comic books, sci-fi, or fantasy. Video games were the exception to the rule it seemed. But they weren’t marketed to a female audience. So I remained a nerd in secret. I told only my family about my love for all things science fiction. I shared very little of my love for fantasy worlds of elves and fairies. I kept quiet about my superhero dreams. And I certainly never mentioned my interest in the ultimate in nerdy shame: Dungeons & Dragons. My only outward claim to nerdiness was that I had the nerve to be an intelligent girl who liked school and did well there. And I was at an additional disadvantage.
The South, by which I mean the southern region of the United States, is not exactly well-known nerd territory. I’m not from the Deep South, being from Tennessee and all, but I’m below the Mason-Dixon Line. I grew up splitting my time between home and my Nanny’s farm. Nerd boys assumed that I must be some dumb hick. Cool kids only saw the brainy kid blowing up the bell curve. And my schools were often full of your run of the mill hick country boys who lacked respect for women in general.
High school was the first time that I began to hang out with my own kind. This was about the same time I discovered that no one noticed me so no one would care just how nerdy I was. This carried on through college, even as the guys began to realize that I was a chick. Looking back now I can see how the math worked. NIC + BOOBS = NERD CANDY. I know that’s crass. But it’s the ugly truth. I spent many hours in game rooms and dens watching games of Halo, Shadowrun, and D&D, lounging in my boyfriend’s lap or cradling his head in mine. I rarely played. But I was present. And I was female. And that was the point.
Nerd Candy Levels Up: Where I am now
So what happens when nerd candy grows up? That’s the question isn’t it?
I’m in my late twenties. Ok, my very late twenties. I’m still as Southern as sweet tea. And I’m still incredibly nerdy. But I’m not sure I qualify as a grown up. Sure, I do grown up things. I have a job. I pay taxes and bills. I make appointments. I am responsible for making sure I am on time to things. I plan and budget. But I also have an unholy addiction to gummy bears. I impulse buy nail polish and pretty pens. I absolutely cannot be trusted around cute office supplies. I refuse to respect the limits of my body. For example, I often think it’s fine to attempt to function on about three hours of sleep. I also think binge watching 7+ hours of television when there are other important things to be done is an acceptable use of my time. Especially if that television involves superheros, criminal investigations, or supernatural creatures. So maybe I’m not a grown up. But I can pretend fairly well and that’s all that matters.
I have leveled up though. I have managed to gain plenty of experience points from battles with terrible people, bad relationships, unpleasant situations, and mental illness. Even if I probably haven’t been doing a very good job using my ability points. I probably should have spent some of them working on my willpower and less on my snappy comebacks. But where’s the fun in that
My life is a small adventure that will only get bigger. I have become a bit of a fitness junkie. I’m more than a little obsessed with planners and getting organized, mostly out of necessity. I become a mad scientist when left to my own devices in the kitchen. Tucked into the hard drive of my laptop is an unfinished cyberpunk novel that someday I plan to publish. I live with my incredible Nerdmate, Chad, and I’m now Nerd Mama to two Nerdlings with special needs.
I have a bachelors degree in political science that I don’t use for much and a 9 to 5 clerk job that I use to pay the bills. It’s not the best use of my skills or talents or the most satisfying but it’s a good job, with plenty of security. I like most of my coworkers. Over all I’m happy. But I’ve recently begun reconsidering some things in my life, which is why I’m working my way toward a Doctorate in Psychology. Then I’ll be Dr. Nerd Candy, PhD! Truth is, where I am now is still a bit of a mystery. I still don’t know for sure what I’m doing with my life or where it’s going, and that’s OK.