Sunday, August 19, 2012

Be a Nerd for Something

I have learned a lot of things from my husband in the eight years that I have known him. Since being married, I feel like that learning process has been on hyper-drive. Today we have been married for a full year, and I would like to talk about one of my favorite lessons he has ever taught me.

"Oh, hey guys! We're already learning so much!"

Be a Nerd for Something: A Lesson from My Husband, Daniel
by: His Wife, Christy

The audience of Drum Corp International's live-streamed World Championship is different than most human beings would ever imagine. To be fair, most human beings have probably never heard of Drum Corp International. Whenever Daniel announced that he had bought tickets to this event at the Union Square 14 Regal Cinema, I was certain it would be the two of us alone with the projectionist. I obliged, laughing at his precious decision to purchase advance-tickets to something so obscure.

Color me surprised when I entered a theater as full as any summer blockbuster midnight premiere. The 4.5 hours I spent in that theater (You are not reading that wrong. FOUR. AND. A. HALF.) were some of the strangest of my life as I immersed myself into this off-the-wall subculture of adult band nerds.

Here is my tweet about this selfless accomplishment.

Now, if you don't know what Drum Corp International is, you are the 99%. If you were in marching band at some point in your life, you might be familiar, but the rest of us are typically clueless about the passionate world of DCI. Basically it's a marching band competition and it's kind of a big deal, I guess.

Bands (or corps) from all over the nation comprised of high-schoolers and college students perform shows based on a theme. These groups practice and perform all summer long until they achieve total precision and are ready to compete in the DCI finals. There are a few bands that have a huge following (for a marching band, I guess) and there are some other bands that only the students' moms know about. 

Now, if you are reading this and you don't know what marching band is, you might be from Cuba or something (For some reason, I'm just assuming that they don't have marching band in Cuba. That might not be entirely fair). Here is a highlight reel from the DCI website that might give you some kind of indication to as to the showmanship expected from these guys:

The whole experience for me was at first just a little odd. I had to come to terms with the fact that these people were all here in a crowded movie theater to watch marching band shows and not Batman or something. I used to be a choir girl myself, but I'm not sure I would have dedicated this kind of time and money to see groups perform a selection of madrigals for almost five hours, even if they were dressed like this:

A member of the Blue Knights color guard

It all became especially real whenever it was time for a group called The Madison Scouts to perform. All of a sudden this audience was transformed from a collection of well-educated band directors and enthusiasts into a squealing, convulsing, elated group of pre-teens that you might find at a One Direction concert. It was pandemonium.

I heard the woman in front of us announce that these guys were "SO sexy, ohmygod", and I didn't have the heart to remind her that some of them might be sixteen-years-old. I looked over to Daniel to laugh about this absolute Scout Mania when I noticed a glimmer of utter joy in his eyes. He was into this. While he might not join the woman in the row in front of us in announcing their sex appeal, Daniel was legitimately excited to be at Regal Cinemas amongst people who were absolutely nerding out over these guys with feathers on their heads.

At first, I felt a little embarrassed. Up until this point, I had been making fun of all of these people in my mind, but marching band is actually super impressive. Nick Cannon wasn't just in the movie "Drumline" for the paycheck. What these guys do is nothing short of superhuman, and my husband, my best friend, actually used to be a part of this.

Now, tell me he doesn't look awesome in this picture!

Despite the fact that it requires so much skill, marching band has kind of always been a classically nerdy thing to do. The people in marching band, however, swear by it. They are a tight-knit community who get jazzed about metronomes and drum majors and all of those things that the rest of us just can't possibly understand. To be called a "band nerd" might as well be the same as "rock star".

Daniel has never been ashamed to say that he is a nerd. I think it is his favorite description for himself. He is a constant seeker of information. Reading is like breathing for him in a way that puts even the most avid readers to shame. He is twenty-three-years-old and still reads books with dragons on the covers and he uses every opportunity to teach me something new about dinosaurs. He starts almost every sentence with "I was listening to a podcast the other day and.." or "There was this article the other day that talked about..." He watches television shows no one has ever heard of. He comes out on top in fantasy sports without watching a single game. He has played Magic the Gathering numerous times in his adult life. 

A parody meme made by one of Daniel's roommates.

He's a nerd by almost anyone's standards. 

But Daniel is the best kind of nerd. He is the kind of nerd that delights in several nerd communities. Like his time in marching band, Daniel has always surrounded himself with people of unabashed interests and passions. When you meet Daniel, he wants you to talk about what you're excited about. He wants to laugh with you about your specialized knowledge and encourage you in expressing those things that make you most excited. To Daniel, whatever it is that makes you absolutely nerd-out is the coolest thing in the world. 

Daniel expressively encouraging a friend to pursue their passions

Before I met Daniel, cool was my highest pursuit. To be fair, I was a teenager and that was probably what we all cared about most, but not Daniel. That has never been his aim. As someone riddled with self-consciousness, Daniel is the most refreshing thing that could have ever happened to me. On a daily basis, Daniel encourages me to do the things I love despite what anyone might think as a result. Let's be honest: this entire blog would not be happening without the incessant requests of my husband. 

It dawned on me in that movie theater, as plume-headed men and women trumpeted militantly before my eyes, that Daniel was inviting me into this nerd-dom and that this was an incredibly intimate and trusting gesture. Not only that, but by marrying me, Daniel has invited me to the rest of his passionately nerdy days, and since he chose me, he must consider me a nerd as well (and if you are friends with Dan, trust me, he thinks you are a nerd too). 

Look! We're both nerds.

As Daniel has imparted this knowledge in our marriage, I hope to impart it to anyone who is reading this: Be a nerd for something. Dust off that accordion, dance even if you're terrible, make a fool of yourself in an incredibly public way. Love that thing that you love in a way that makes you a little bit eccentric.

To conclude, I would like to end with Daniel's hands-down favorite story from the Bible. It comes from 2 Samuel chapter 6, and it's going to be my Cliffs Notes version, so here goes: 

So David (King of Israel/protagonist in this story) is super stoked about something great that God has done. He gets so excited, in fact, that he dances around in a linen ephod (basically his underwear) as a way of praising the Lord. This girl named Michal is watching this scene unfold, and she is not impressed. When David comes by her later, she says something super snarky:

"How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!" 

This girl is not happy. But David goes on to explain that he was doing this as a celebration for God and he says something incredible:

"I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes" 

David does not care that he looks flat-crazy. He is nerding out for what he believes in. Let us all be as undignified as David is for the Lord and as humiliated in our own eyes as Daniel is for Jurassic Park (and the Lord). 



  1. As your husband's high school band director I'm sure I can find more pictures!!! Lol. Great post! And congrats on your 1 year anniversary!

    1. Thanks so much! How great that you were there when his band passion first began. Obviously I would love as many embarrassing pictures of Daniel as possible.

  2. I don't even want to admit how behind I am in catching up with what's going on in your life. But at least I am finally in touch and I love it!! Baby is here beside me yelling "Bedtime grandma. Bedtime." It's not that she wants to go to bed...she just wants to act crazy. I loved this adventure into a realm of which I did not know!

  3. If your husband is such a nerd, perhaps you should ask him the difference between a "marching band" and a "drum & bugle corps".

    1. I did. He stared off into the distance for a solid three minutes and with tears in his eyes, he finally said, "You're just not ready..." He hasn't spoken for three days.

      Also, bugles are delicious. Great comment!

  4. What a great post!! I am a fan of letting your nerd flag fly :) Great Bible story, by the way!

  5. I have become a nerd since I started dating the man who is now my husband. (Correction: more of a nerd. I've always been obsessed with books, preferring them to any outdoor activity, but my husband took my nerdiness to a whole new level.) He introduced me to things like Smallville, the entire Superman history, Celtic Thunder (we've been to two concerts!!), and explained the difference between DC comics and Marvel. He also got me to be slightly obsessed with a video game (LEGO Lord of the Rings) for the first time in my life. And I've watched every episode of every season of Stargate, Star Trek, Heroes, Smallville, and a few others, and we're almost done working our way through Lois and Clark.

    Oh. And I own a Superman t-shirt. And proudly wore it to go see "Man of Steel" last week. I also have Superman underwear, but you didn't need to know that...

  6. Uuuum, you make me feel like a sane person :) I have read much more of your stories than any one person should in 24 hours. Thank youuuuu for being refreshing, silly, kind and honest. xx ~Sharon Rose

  7. My own fiance and I went through the same thing! We were actually both nerds but on different things - now we are each very extensive ones =) If you'd like to follow our own journey I've started a blog myself! Here's the link, and to the article the highlights the geekdom,
    Thanks for continuing to write amazing entries! Love them


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