Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Dixie Chicks Have Never Bought Me Dinner

As you may or may not know, I've been in the US Air Force for a number of years.  As a result, I've had experiences most people will never get to have. 
Like hanging out in a bunker reading Heinlein during a rocket attack
In 2009 I was deployed to Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan to open a clinic for US Air Force members.  It was my first deployment in nearly 8 years of service and was nothing like what my training had prepared me for.  For one, it was a NATO base with a large population of Canadian, British, Dutch, and a dozen more European countries.

The Brits had the best coffee house.  You could get chocolate cake that tasted just like back at home.  The Dutch had a bar where the US forces were only allowed to drink near beer.  The German Post Exchange was everything you would expect from a German military shop...full of knives and other military gear.  The Canadians, of course, had Tim Horton's.  And the French...they had an amazing bakery where you could get a latte and croissant when you got tired of eating breakfast in the chow hall.
Afghanistan has one color...dust

On a deployment like that, one day starts to look just like another, so you look for things to break the routine and give you something to look forward to besides another day just like the previous weeks.  USO tours are great for this.  Personally, I was hoping to see my future husband, Henry Rollins, in Afghanistan on a USO tour, but he's been playing hard to get for years.  So when Toby Keith came to KAF that summer, a large percentage of Americans on base turned out to see the show.

Now I know that the popular thing to do is dismiss Toby Keith as an ignorant redneck.  What pisses me off about this is that this perception didn't start until he started publicly supporting the troops.  Before 9/11 Toby Keith was just like any other popular country artist, writing songs about drinking, cowboys, trucks, and women.  After 9/11, however, when all those other country stars (and rock and pop stars) were standing on stage in cushy air-conditioned venues professing their support for the troops, Toby Keith got on a plane to the sandbox to tell us to our faces.
Not pictured: Blistering heat and random rocket attacks
The show he did while I was in Kandahar opened with our US forces commander directing us what to do if a rocket attack happened during the performance.  That wasn't just a long-shot what-if scenario either.  At the time, we were getting rocket attacks about 3 times a week and Keith's last show at KAF was interrupted by an attack. 

Once the show started, he played all his songs about drinking, cowboys, trucks, and women...and for a little while it was like I wasn't in some shit hole in Afghanistan.  Then, there was a quiet moment, broken only by the sound of a single guitar before Toby Keith came in with the opening lyrics to "American Soldier."  The crowd was full of US Soldiers, Marines, Seamen, and Airmen.  Some joined in, "I will always do my duty, no matter what the price." Some gathered their friends, arms around their shoulders.  Some stood quietly, eyes filling with tears.  One of the most moving experiences of that deployment was standing in that crowd full of people singing, "I don't want to die for you, but if dying's asked of me, I'll bear that cross with honor, 'cause freedom don't come free," because I knew we all meant it and because I knew that some of those in that crowd would have to prove it.

For the final song of the night, Toby Keith played a song that he wrote after 9/11 and for months only played for the troops.  It was only recorded at the request of the Marine corps Commandant..."Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (the Angry American)."  The entire crowd raised a fist in the air as we all sung along at full volume.  I briefly wondered if he would censor "we'll put a boot in your ass; it's the American way," since we were on a NATO base, but I later realized how silly that was to think Toby Keith cared about being politically correct while performing for US troops.  That line was probably the loudest part of the show.

As the event concluded, Toby Keith addressed the crowd and told us how much he respects us and how much our service means to him.  Then he offered to buy us all burgers and beers when we got home.  He said if we went to any of his I Love This Bar & Grills and showed our military ID, we'd get a burger and beer on the house.  I got mine in Vegas the following November.

Rule #4: Celebrities should put up or shut up.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Hot Nerd Love

First, let me just state for the record that I'm a giant nerd.  A math-doing, Dungeons & Dragons playing, W00tstock attending, Monty Python quoting, Sci-Fi reading, Faire going, SCA Lady.  I refuse to acknowledge Star Wars episodes I-III exist and maintain to this day that Han shot first.  Even my beer drinking gets a scientific approach, but more on that later.

There are some myths about dating nerds that have been floating around for awhile now, and as a nerd myself I feel like I should address them.

The first is that non-nerd women should consider dating nerdy men because the nerdy guy will be so amazingly happy that a woman is letting him touch her that he will be supremely grateful and treat her like a queen.  This enthusiasm will of course transfer over to the bedroom and he will put forth more effort than a "regular" guy into satisfying his philanthropic lover. I'm not going to really do a point-by-point debunk of this because the theories seem to have been created by people who have never actually allowed a nerd to touch them.

I've been dating nerds for about 20 years now (holy crap! Am I that old?) beginning with Edward the trombone playing Boy Scout.  Most every guy I've dated since has been a gamer (computer or table top), IT guy, band nerd, Rennie, and/or SCAdian.  I consider myself an expert on nerd love.

The thing is: Most nerds are no different than non-nerds.  Some of them are considerate.  Some are douche-canoes.  Some really know their way around a woman's body.  And some couldn't satisfy a woman if you made them an algorithm and annotated diagram.

In the interest of full disclosure and to give you the hot nerd love promised in the title, I'll go ahead and detail the extremes of the spectrum.  Yes, these are totally stereotypical, but that's part of the fun.  Go ahead and blow up the comments section with your angry rants.

First, the Alpha Nerd.  He probably runs your D&D game.  In his teens and early 20's he holds court at game night at the local comic book store.  He either has a long-suffering girlfriend he regularly cheats on or has never been tied down to one girl and hooks up with whoever strikes his fancy on a particular day.  Either one will rock your Casbah.  They're good and they know it.  Take them to a gaming convention, Rennaisance Faire, or SCA event and they'll need to install a revolving door to their pants.  Fawkes from The Guild is a great example of this.

I hate that I want to do bad bad things to him.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Socially Awkward Basement Dweller.  He's probably had the same job since high school, though his dream job is to work at the comic book store.  If he's had a girlfriend, she was in high school and he'd just graduated and could buy her cigarettes and get her into R rated movies.  They're frequently sloppy kissers and clumsy ineffective lovers.  Check out Stuart the comic book store owner from The Big Bang Theory as a prime example.
The most attractive man on all non-Wheaton episodes of The Big Bang Theory
The flip side of the Nerd Love coin is the Geek Girl.  Popular opinion is that since their hobbies are male dominated, they have hordes of geeky dudes competing for their affections.  My male friends seem to think I must have hordes of single men breaking down my door because "ZOMG!  You make yummy cupcakes, drink beer, and play Dungeons & Dragons!"  If only.  The funny thing is that most of the men saying this to me are married to uptight chardonay swilling hags who won't let them out of the house to play D&D with their friends.  It turns out, men want a nerdy woman, but not one who's nerdier than they are.  I'm pretty epicly nerdy, so finding a nerdier dude is a tricky proposition, especially when they all got married off to mundanes years ago. 
This is what the internet thinks girl gamers do.
A few years ago, I was talking to a biracial friend of mine about nerds and relationships.  During a rant, I stated that I was firmly opposed to mixed marriages.  Just as I was about to have a very angry Marine on my hands, he realized I meant nerds/normals not different races.  I'm still amused by this.

Rule #3 Nerds should stick to their own kind.