What makes a nerd?
I turned to Etymology Online, a suitably nerdy source, to discover its origins. Nerds, apparently, are a relatively recent invention. “Nerd” became en vogue in the 1950s; it was a play on the word “nut” - a stupid or crazy person. The first written use of the word “Nerd” was actually in a Dr. Seuss book, “If I Ran the Zoo.”
Of course, the meaning has shifted over time; nerds were stupid, crazy, or obsessive people, spending too much time inside working on their math homework. It brings to mind the offensive term “idiot savant.” Imagining the 50s, this makes sense. America was all about the gleaming, pristine nuclear family, with football for the guys and ballet for the girls. Someone who wants to stay inside all day, reading or studying? A perverse, sick nerd.
While the 50s didn’t last forever, the word “nerd” stuck with us. IBM released the first mass produced computer in 1954, the same year the programming language FORTRAN was created. By the time the 1980s rolled around, the decade I was born, the role of the nerd was beginning to shift. Bill Gates had started Microsoft, the two Steve’s had started Apple and personal computers were beginning to blow up. Revenge of the Nerds, a 1984 movie about conflict between jocks and geeks on a college campus, was a box office hit.
I was born to two nerds, both engineers, each from a long lineage of nerds. Family reunions on both sides are basically a generalized STEM conference; doctors, scientists, engineers, math professors, quants. While I was a kid, the role of the nerd was nebulous. Were we losers or were we cool? Maybe both?
Hackers came out in 1995 and those nerds were definitely cool. Verified hottie Angelina Jolie playing a computer nerd? Revolutionary. They rollerskated around, whistling into phones, hacking the mainframe. Angelina Jolie ends up dumping her jock BF to be with one of the nerds.
These days, nerd is hardly an insult. Almost everyone uses a computer these days. Still, though, for some people it holds a lot of emotional baggage. One of my lovers and I were fucking on acid a few years ago and I whispered “nerd” into his ear. He started crying.
Why do nerds make the best lovers? Of course, this is just purely my opinion; I know plenty of people who prefer “himbos” (beautiful and stupid men). It is so funny to me that we even had to come up with a term like himbos! Back in the day, we just called them jocks. And I never wanted to fuck the jocks.
I get the appeal of jocks; they are usually strong and have pretty good bodily awareness. As far as the physical aspects of sex go, a jock is, in many ways, an ideal partner. However, if we think of a nerd as someone who is drawn towards figuring out complex systems (like language, computers, chess, or music), and we acknowledge that sex and bodies can be a similarly complex systems, it makes perfect sense that nerds would be great at a certain type of sex.
Because I want to do more than just fuck. I want sex to be a game, one where we’re figuring each other out, learning which buttons to press, in which order, for maximum effect. It’s a cliche, but the brain is the largest erogenous zone. I want the first time we fuck to be the hardest, like playing a video game you’re not quite familiar with yet.
This is a part of why hands are so attractive to me. Looking at someone’s hands, watching how they touch something, you get a little window into how they engage with the world. Do they know how to touch something gently, get a little rough, dial it back down? Can they nail the timing?
I think back on one of my crushes in high school. He was a violin virtuoso and I sat next to him in the orchestra. I would watch his hands, one on the bow, one on the strings, how he held them, modulating the pressure and the movement, the beautiful intensity of his vibrato. I was also infatuated with one of the cellists, and how she would gracefully move her hands up and down the neck of her instrument. Confidence, precision, strength.
Imagine those fingers learning the instrument of your body, where to caress, and how, or their lips and tongue, learning you too.
The hardest thing about sex with wickedly smart people is coaxing them out of their head. While a jock will just go for it, the nerd might overthink it. Hesitate.
And that’s why you need to play with their hesitation, tease them, let them think something might happen and then pull back. So that by the time they’re finally actually fucking you, they’ve already played it out in their head a thousand times, and they’re so overwhelmed with desire that it overpowers any part of them that’s still holding back.
Like any good stage actor knows, you need tension before you can get release.