I readily confess to being a nerd. I have a calendar at my desk with covers of Silver Age DC comics, and know that Nick Fury wasn't always a black guy. I know lots of crap about Star Wars, and have enough knowledge of Star Trek to mock Trekkies. I can compare the mechanical nuances of Red Box D&D to 3rd Edition, and tell you at length why I dislike Eberron. I own Cowboy Bebop, Akira, and Kung Fu Hustle (and yes, only two of those are anime), and have a Speed Racer Happy Meal toy on my computer. I could go on, but I think that I've proven that my nerd credentials are up to date.
However, while I am incontrovertibly a nerd, I like to think that I manage to possess a reasonable amount of social skill. I can talk to girls. I have friends who don't play games. I bathe regularly, and wash my face, and try to hit the gym now and then (though I admit that it's not as often as I should). I'm not nearly cool enough to be a front man for a cigarette company's advertising campaign, and an aging man with a bald spot would probably only work as a public service announcement (hey, kids, do you want to look like this guy? No? Then quit smoking and put down the Twinkies, dumb-ass), but I can interact with people who know more about frying turkeys or current trends in fashionable shoes than they do about polyhedral dice.
So when I say that way too many of you are socially unacceptable retards, please don't take too much offense. I'm not writing this about all the people who don't read this column because they don't get internet in their mom's basement. I'm writing this directly to you, the guy sitting at his computer reading my column. It's not a rant aimed at making fun of people who aren't here. I mean you. If someone around you can smell your pit odor, or if you stutter when you talk to girls who aren't built like beach balls, or if you can't look a man in the eye when you talk to him, then I'm talking to you. Hell, if you leave the house wearing a shirt that you got at a CCG tournament, or if you have ever owned a Naruto headband for anything other than pure ironic humor, I'm talking to you.
Now, I grant you that it's not even remotely fair to be slinging stones. I'm in a giant glass house here. I'm about two pant sizes larger than I want to be. I wear glasses because I spent too much time reading with crappy lighting as a kid. I may not have zits (one of the perks to bathing every day), but I do own more than one shirt that unmistakably labels me a gamer. But I didn't start this site to be fair, and if you're all pissed because I'm outing you for having a crappy IT job and a near-critical need for a professional haircut, you can bite me.
I'm exhibiting at BGG Con this weekend, starting Thursday and going to Sunday afternoon. Only I couldn't get there yesterday or today, so talked my wife into going in my place. And while she was very nice about it, I could tell from her stories for the past two days that she saw a startling number of goobers. Well, not startling to me - I've been attending nerd cons since I was in high school - but a little startling to her. When she comes home and says, 'if I go back, I'm wearing a turtleneck,' I know she saw some nerdy sons of bitches who couldn't talk to her without being mesmerized by her boobies. And since I have been doing this a long time, I'm quite familiar with the caliber of dude attending a con. I am, after all, a nerd.
So if you're one of the drooling geeks who couldn't come over to the booth because you were scared of my wife, you need to clean up a little. Cut off your ponytail - it's not 1985 any more, and those things look seriously gay. And not even true homosexual gay, but just lame nerd gay. Actual gay guys wouldn't wear hair that stupid. You look like a hillbilly retard.
Wash your face. If you've got acne, it might be due to the fact that you eat so much pizza that your complexion is like 90% lard. Try a salad every now and then. It won't kill you, and it might even clean out your colon, which right now cries in fear every time you open your mouth to insert another double-meat-double-cheese with super-sized fries and a chocolate shake.
Buy some comfortable, attractive clothing. Shirts shaped like circus tents advertising obscure Japanese furry porn are NOT attractive. And you do not look good wearing all black - only vampires and Johnny Cash can really pull that off well. Wash your clothes after you wear them. Hang them up so they don't wrinkle. When you get a compliment on a shirt, it does not mean you should wear it every Thursday for the rest of your life. I've known some seriously fat bastards who could look good in their clothes, and if they can pull it off, so can you.
And while we're discussing body shape, allow me to address your sagging man boobs. If you could lose a Pokemon deck in your belly button, it's time to take up an outdoor hobby. Oh, and karate doesn't count - if you've never been in a fight outside a martial arts studio, you are absolutely NOT a bad-ass. You are just another nerd who thinks that knowing how to hold a horse stance means you know what to do if some drunk redneck in a bar suddenly decides he wants to drink your beer.
Go to a store and talk to the clerk while she checks your groceries. It's good practice, and unless you're really creepy, she can't call security or throw a drink in your face. Make jokes, even if you're not sure anyone will laugh. Smile at people who hold the door for you. Stand up straight and walk like you had to be some place instead of hunched over like you're scared someone might talk to you. When people talk to you, look them in the eye, nod and pay attention.
But there's a flip side to this social practice, too, a guy I like to call Stockholm Man. Because he finds someone who has exhibited, however accidentally, some shared knowledge, and then captures the guy by refusing to shut up about his collection of GI Joe figures for most of twenty minutes. I'm telling you right now, dude, that conversation grows old after two sentences. Not two minutes - two sentences. If I don't go, 'man, that's great! I totally want to see your collection!', then I'm probably bored and wish you would go away, but I'm too polite to just go, 'listen, slick, the only way I ever want to hear about your action figures again is if I'm bidding on them at your estate sale.' I think the name 'Stockholm Man' mostly fits, except that unlike Stockholm Syndrome, the longer you keep me captive with your boring tales of extreme nerdity, the more I want to stab you in the forehead with a shrimp fork.
In fact, allow me to address the idea that conventions are a good place for you to be yourself if you are a super dork. They are not. There is no good place to be a social retard. There is no place where it is OK for you to smell like toe fungus and bad cheese. Don't go out in public wearing shirts that declare 'I'm the DM' or 'I Heart Cthulhu' or 'I Stop For Dragons.' Even at gaming conventions, there are people who could fit in with society, and they are embarrassed to be sharing the room with you. It's fine to be yourself, but only if yourself isn't a wackadoo burnout whose only encouragement comes when his mom tells him he's handsome. Bad news, stinky - she lied.
Let me put it to you like this. I have a son. He is not the least bit tubby, but he could use a little exercise. He has blackheads and pimples and often has bad hair because he won't brush it as often as he should. He sometimes wears the same shirt two days in a row. He often wears pants far past their expiration date. And he is cooler than you are, by a long, long ways. In fact, he mocks you as much as I do. If you can't be as cool as a pimply teenager who is scared of girls, you need to take action RIGHT NOW.
You might be outraged. You might think I'm taking cheap shots and making fun of defenseless nerds who haven't ever done anything to me. You might call me a bully, or a hypocrite, or a mean-spirited asshole. And unfortunately for me, you're right on all those counts. But even though I am a hypocritical bullying asshole taking cheap shots and mocking my own kind, I have a greater purpose here - to get you to clean up. Because most of my best friends are nerds of one form or another, and if you were to figure out how to talk to my wife without mumbling, or learn how to dress yourself so you don't look like a depressed circus clown, we might make good friends (assuming you don't want to hit me in the face at this point, but can't because your karate instructor only taught you how to punch if you first drop into some goofy Bruce Lee pose, and the instant you do that, I'm going to brain you with a beer bottle).
The real problem here is that you're scared, even if you won't admit it. You're scared to talk to people because you think they won't like you. You're scared to take chances because in real life, you can't roll up another character if you get rejected, or set up the board again if you throw up in the car. You're flat-out scared, and so you hide in your apartment and avoid confrontation, and you've never had sex with a beautiful woman or discovered an excellent bottle of wine or punched a man in the face after trying to dance with his girlfriend. So you've avoided some bad experiences, like alcohol poisoning or gonorrhea or having a girl tell you to please go away because your breath smells like vomit. You've also missed out on so much of life, and the longer you wait to quit being scared, the more life you'll miss. You can't ever recover the parts you've missed, but if you start now, you can find out what you've been missing. And most of all, if you have never really grabbed life by the hairy ballsack and squeezed until it cried mercy, you and I are not destined to be friends.
And that's the bottom line, for me. I like knowing a lot of people who will play games with me. I enjoy discussing whether Risk 2210 is better than Black Ops. I love to talk about games and toys and cartoons from the eighties. But I don't like to discuss those things with people if I feel sorry for them, and I don't think anyone actually enjoys the smell of ripe, unwashed ass.
There is hope for you, even if your percent of body fat is more than your percent of body. I know you're watching TV, so flip over to something popular and get a haircut like the good-looking district attorney instead of your favorite vampire hunter. Watch what people wear on shows about rich people who live in California, and wear that. Yes, I am encouraging you to be just like everybody else. But the fact is, if you were more like everyone else and less like a frigging hobbit, you might make some friends who like to go out in the daylight. You and I might get the chance to be friends. And most importantly for you, you might get laid.