“The Nerds Lost”

by cheri block

You know, the other day (when I wasn’t slaving over Chapter Two of my thesis), some of my closest friends (all two of them) were talking college football. Out of the corners of my eyes (the ones that glasses fit over), I heard them say the most insulting thing:

“The Nerds lost.”

They were referring to the Stanford football team as Nerds.

Deep in my heart (the one with 2 ventricles and 2 arteries), I experienced psychic pain.

My feelings were hurt.

Nerd is nasty word, especially in this week of Nobel Prizes during which nerds receive money and credit for their academic contributions to humanity.

In honor of all nerds, I am going to reprint one of my favorite essays about a nerdy girl who, when most of her girlfriends were shaving their legs and curling their blond hair in anticipation of  the Friday night dance at Centerville Junior High School, was memorizing the Gettysburg Address.

I wrote this in 2009, so if you have been a reader that long, please forgive the repetition (but then again, we know that repetition is one of the ways to learn our multiplication tables).

240px-black_jacks_gum21

                              The Nerdy 8th Grade Girl’s Plan for Popularity

1963

Nerds love to memorize things like the Gettysburg Address, all prime numbers to 7919, eighty vocabulary words a week, and Walt Whitman’s O Captain, My Captain and the nerdy 8th grade girl was no exception.

Learning all 53 of the most commonly used prepositions was, as her father said, chickenfeed.

Out in the hallway by Mr. Mims’ classroom, Mr. Mims popped out the door and asked the nerdy 8th grade girl if she had finished her origami project, folding a lithe perfectly pressed swan for a class mobile.

Absolutely, Mr. Mims. My 100 pastel swans are in this shoebox, ready to turn in to you. Can you imagine what my mobile will look like with 100 swans?

I have also begun a gum wrapper chain that extends from my bed to the family room, so if you know anyone that chews Juicyfruit, Beemans, Blackjack or Clove gum, I need their wrappers. My goal is a 50-yard gum wrapper chain. Ok, Mr. Mims?

Mr. Mims raised his feminine eyebrows and winked, imagining the glorious mobile, and then sashayed back into his classroom, followed in by the nerdy girl.

Just then, Dennis and David Kennerson, the cutest twin guys born in this century, walked past the classroom door on their way to Algebra 1 Honors class. Wavy, but not too wavy, blondish brown hair and big soft blue eyes (the color of the Beeman’s gum wrappers), outlined by long soft lashes ,drew the nerdy girl out into the hallway.

All the swans in her box couldn’t have attracted them to her. The boys were interested in Kathy Delfs, whose body had a shape not like an origami swan.

Hey Dave, are you ready for Mrs. Poier’s quiz on the 53 prepositions? Kathy asked. She shook her blond ponytail from left to right and then put her finger in her mouth.

Naw. That assignment is garbage. When the heck are we ever going to use 53 pronouns in real life? asked Dave and Dennis nodded too. And then, just to be ultra cool, they said the word crap.

Out of Mr. Mims’ door jumped the nerdy 8th grade girl.

Did someone say crap?

Yeah, we did. We are going to flunk this quiz and we don’t care.

If you flunk, you can’t go to the dance on Friday and I hear that Mr. Schnabel is going to allow 5 more slow dances, including Andy Williams’ Moon River, said the nerdy 8th grade girl.

Come over to my house after school and I will teach you a special way to learn the prepositions.

The Kennerson twins and Kathy Delfs, Dede Spellman, and Christine Stephenson all converged at the nerdy girl’s house, her fame from the Mayor Art show just a dusty childhood memory.

OK. To remember long lists, poems, and vocabulary words, I use a method called Memory by Association. It works! I have never had any grade less than an A on any assignment.

Kathy yawned. Dede signed. Christine was skeptical ( I observed the lack of parallelism).

The nerdy 8th grade girl’s mother Joan pulled some chocolate cookies out of the oven.

The Kennerson twins sniffed and eyed the tall glasses of ice cold milk from the Cloverdale Creamery on the table.

Ok Guys, come on over to the table, have some cookies, and I will teach you Memory by Association. It really does work ( I observed the misplaced modifier).

Ok. So the first three prepositions are above, across, and after. Can you think of a sentence that you will remember that includes those prepositions?

Let me help you get started.

At the dance on Friday night, after the music, Dennis came across the floor to ask someone to dance…and then….

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About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in My childhood, Writing and Teaching and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to “The Nerds Lost”

  1. douglas says:

    Nerds are no longer viewed as lepers. If they ever were. As I recall from my school days, nerds were much in demand in the last few days before mid-terms and finals. nerds were bullied, that’s so, but also envied for their ability to absorb information and regurgitate it on tests and schoolwork. Sure, some nerds failed to recognize the shallowness of their temporary popularity around test time and mistook it for actual friendship. nerds became doctors, lawyers, teachers, professors, scientists, and so much more. I think they are getting the last laugh.

    My nephew is a nerd, I love him.

  2. Christopher says:

    “……..The nerdy 8th grade girl’s mother pulled some chocolate cookies *out of* the oven……”

    The “out of” in this sentence caught my attention because I would have thought that in American English “out the oven”, and not “out of the oven” would be correct. I mean, when you look outside from indoors, you do so “out the window”, not “out of the window”, do you not?

    Growing up in a society that used “English” English, I would deliberately irritate my schoolteacher mother by saying “out the window”. She never failed to correct me. Using Americanisms was infra dIg!!

    • Douglas says:

      One can “look out of the window” though we do look “out the window” mostly. “pulling some cookies “out the oven” just sounds awkward and incomplete to me. Most American English is a “does it sound right” language. Consider “If I were a rich man”, which is correct (or accepted) while “If I was a rich man” is not correct… though it seems that it should be..

      • Christopher says:

        Using the correct preposition is a matter of “does it sound right” not only in English, but likely in most other languages too, as I’ve found out in my pitiful efforts to learn French and German.

        Of course, in grammar generally, the rules were made to be broken. Like, “I don’t need no education” conveys a certain something that “I don’t need any education” doesn’t.

        The grammatically (and politically) correct song, *”Elderly Man River”* illustrates this issue perfectly.

        • Cheri says:

          I have not seen this but will follow your link because it sounds FUNNY and I need a laugh.
          Thank you, as usual, for taking the time to comment and post a link, Christopher.
          I hope you are doing well.

    • Cheri says:

      Hi Christopher,
      Your example is astute. You do look out the window. I have not consulted my grammar texts on this one (so busy trying to meet a thesis chapter deadline). That “thesis chapter deadline” is incorrect usage, I believe… I taught my students not to string three nouns together and not to use nouns as adjectives.

      We do say “out of the oven” and I am not sure why! Maybe Douglas is correct about the ear…

  3. bogard says:

    And not a single sentence ended with one of those prepositions!! Very impressive. And I am sure most people have heard the joke about the freshman student at an elite university asking a senior, “Excuse me, sir, where’s the library at?,” (I won’t bother with the rest of the joke).
    As to the nerd’s football loss, just note, the Cardinal has been a top 10 team the past few years, Rose Bowl champions in 2013. The nerd athletes at Stanford have won the national award for the best collegiate athletic program in the country for the past 18 or 19 years in a row, with the second highest total number of NCAA team championships in the history of college sports (only UCLA has more). In addition, Stanford athletes have won more Olympic medals than any other school’s athletes. Pretty impressive for a bunch of nerds. Go Cardinal!!

    • Cheri says:

      Well, I know that joke bogard and the ending is funny.

      Thanks for coming to visit me several weeks ago. It felt like the good ol days. Boy did we cover a lot of ground driving home from Palo Alto.

      Hooray! The nerds won yesterday.

      Go Nerds.

      Go Beavers!

  4. douglas says:

    Oh, and Tiger Woods was a Stanford athlete.

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