It’s safe to say that everyone has taken an Oceans Eleven style inventory of their friends. Most groups don’t have a surveillance expert but they might have a top notch pepper-jelly guy or board game expert. How those would help pull off a ridiculous caper is not clear, but here are some typical nerdy friends that everyone has.
These friends are sometimes handy DIYers or long-suffering programmers saddled with the “good-with-computers” distinction. Occasionally, they are both. Luckily, they live by the old motto “If they don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy”. They take pity on us after we have suffered hours of Googling and blurry YouTube tutorials. We normally email them several screenshots or pictures- all captioned “I don’t know” with violent red circles and frenetic highlighting. Why did we think we could build that RepRap? The poor souls end up doing the whole thing themselves while you helplessly offer coffee.
The Creative Prodigy
All skills take devotion, but the Creative Prodigies have probably been working on a particular skill their whole life. This friend is often the one making homemade comics or mind-blowing digital art. They are also the one most likely to help you create your Dragoncon cosplay or host a Game of Thrones themed dinner party. (Where can you buy a boar shoulder this time of year?) They could also be the person who photoshops anachronisms out of your sweet ren faire photos. We may find ourselves jealous of their talent, but remember- if you put in your ten thousand hours, you could be as good as them. Their nerdiness lies in their application of creative talent to bring our fantasies alive with costumes, food, and art.
The Deep Cut
Music, comics, video games, movies- whatever this friend’s poison- you want them around to turn you on to exciting things you may have missed! This is the person who had an illicit stack of obscure VHS horror movies when you were thirteen. They were also the friend who took you to your first midnight showing of The Room in college. They turn you onto to indie games that fuel years of addiction and send you USB drives packed with new music for your birthday. Don’t confuse this person with the world-weary hipster who has seen it all and is bored by the time you discover something up-and-coming. They are excited to have someone to share in their love. They spend most conversations evangelizing about long-extinct Bryan Fuller dramedies and are ecstatic to find someone to talk to about it.
The Nurse could be a med student or an actual medical professional. Despite their actual job title, their friends call them for a second opinion about every medical whim. The bonds of what is considered appropriate behavior loosen around these individuals and they probably know more about their friends than they want to. They occasionally receive texts at odd hours asking “what shape is a mole supposed to be” or “What does the ‘C’ stand for in ‘R.I.C.E’?” Remember that although I’m sure they are glad to help out their friends, the middle of a party or in line at the grocery store is not the time to ask them to look at something or ask them to give you your Depo shot.
This friend gets stereotyped a lot as being the ideal pub trivia teammate if they aren’t too busy grading papers- or slumped unconscious over a stack of them drooling. If you are in a debate about something like how many of Henry the 8th’s wives were ladies-in-waiting to previous wives, the Grad Student will probably have the answer. Their humbling knowledge of the universe can be intimidating, but remember they need you to keep them human. Remember that the Grad Student has an identity outside of being a grad student because they may need some reminding. If they were the Deep Cut, Nurse, Creative Prodigy, or Fixit Superstar- they may need a little nerdy help after a week without sleep. They may not have time to build a custom Catan board with you or faithfully recreate The Shire on your Minecraft server, but you could attempt to persuade them with a home cooked meal.
As the great Wil Wheaton said, “it’s not about what you love, its about how you love it”! Being a nerd takes a lot of effort to devote to one specific passion and not everyone can worship everything- unless they are a physics nerd. That’s why it pays to have different varieties of nerdy friends to lend a guiding hand whenever you want to dip your toe in that pool. So whatever it is that you give your devotion to, odds are your group of friends could use your expertise.