I Am Not A Coat: Further Tales of a Girl Nerd

Well, it happened again. Another guy dismissed me outright for both liking video games and not wanting to date him.

I will say first that in my first attempt to write this post I wanted to apologize. I wanted to say, “I am sorry to bring this up. I try to keep this blog about nerd-isms and writing, but I just had to….”

Then I realized this topic IS about nerd-isms and writing, because it is in those spheres that I encounter this very thing, and I would like it to stop. It continuously reminds me that, no matter what, I will always be a bit of an outsider.

I am going to be purposefully vague here, because the specifics both do and don’t matter. That is to say, they don’t because it happens all the gorram time, and they do because I don’t want to get anyone into trouble here, including me. I think we can all look to the Adria Richards story to know what I’m talking about.

Here’s what happened. I was chatting to an acquaintance about how much I loved playing Bioshock (a lot. Seriously, except a post on how awesome Bioshock’s writing is. It’s coming), when another person walked up. I guess he was an acquaintance of my acquaintance . Let’s call him Al. He was surprised I liked Bioshock (being female) and the three of us chatted for awhile about it. I even filled them in on the history of the team (nerd) and the physics engine (huge nerd).

Finally Al turns to me and says, “You’re not single are you?”

I felt my heart drop. I knew where this was going. “Nope.” I said. “Engaged.”

“Damn!” Al exclaimed, and then left. He turned on his heel, snapped dramatically, and left. He looked sincerely disappointed. I had obviously dashed his hopes.

Of course I was also upset. This has happened to most nerd-inclined girls I know, but I don’t know if it hurts them as much as it hurts me. It hurts because it’s like slamming a door in my face. We could be friends, but sadly I’m a female.

Curse you, extra X chromosome.

Maybe this goes back to the study I keep hearing about that shows that most guys are attracted to their female friends, while most of their female friends don’t share that attraction. We weren’t friends though. This guys seemed to feel the right to see me as attractive, and then ignore me when I was unavailable. Why is that okay?

I hesitate to say “Guys, don’t do this,” because I need only to remember Elevator Gate to recall that I am not invited to give dating advice to men.

It is true that approaching someone of the opposite sex is difficult, and sometimes scary. Let me be clear that I am not trying to dissuade anyone from asking anyone else for a date or coffee or whatever.

But, when you know a single fact about me, immediately proposition me, and then dismiss me outright after I turn you down, your message is very clear. I am interesting only in so far as you want to date me. I am an object of romantic interest. I am not a colleague, acquaintance, friend, or even friendly stranger.

I am an object. I am like a coat you spot on a rack but then, when you get closer, you see it’s the wrong color or the wrong size. You frown and walk away. Interaction completed.

And it hurts. It hurts every single time.

 I feel a little bad for Al. He was probably a little embarrassed, but I also wish that he had acted in a way that made me think he was actually interested in me, Leslie, instead of a girl-who-plays-video-games. I am not a coat.

I also wish that I could believe that his interest was out of respect for what I was saying or what I knew, or a general sense that we could be well matched, but it wasn’t. If it was he would have stuck around to be friends or asked for my gamer tag or well…anything but exit stage right. Instead, once I was of no value to him, he left.

I can’t even say how many times this has happened to me, or one of my friends when I was standing next to her. Dozens? More? And yet it still makes my heart drop every time, a new disappointment.

I once tried to explain to my fiancé that I wished I was a boy so I could just, you know, talk about video games.


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