Saturday, November 23, 2013

He Says/She Says: The Geek's Guide to Dating (Part 5 - the Finale)

Read 11/4/13 -11/12/13
5 Stars - Highly Recommended / The Next Best Book
Pages: 208
Publisher: Quirk Books
Released: Now

Reviewed by both TNBBC and Drew Broussard

When Lori and Drew both ended up with copies of The Geek’s Guide to Dating, a brilliantly insane idea struck.  While they both love books and are self-professed geeks, their lives are otherwise almost diametrically opposed:  Boy vs girl – check. Young twenty-something vs late thirty-something – check. Recently single vs long time couple – check. No kids vs kids – check.  

And so a read-along was proposed, with a running email conversation, as they delved into one man’s guide to love in the time of geek.

If you haven't yet, check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 first! 

For the read-a-long review finale, Chapters 6 & 7 – beyond Thunderdome into serious dating, the means of connection these days, and some serious emotional reflection on what it takes to fall in / stay in / fall out of love…

TNBBC: So have you started Thunderdome yet? The first thing that chapter did to me was send me running right back down memory lane. Does anyone have those super long, late night, all night phone calls when you’re first starting to get to know someone anymore? Has social media and cell phone texting replaced that? I used to LOVE being on the phone with a new boyfriend all night long, chatting away over crazy and ridiculous things and then looking up at the clock and being like, holy shit, is it really 4am? Where the hell did the time go? And then hanging up and realizing that your ear is sore as fuck from holding the phone up to it for all those hours. I would hate to think that those phone calls are a thing of the past for all current and future daters.

 And of course, old married hag status or not, I totally related to the whole Code Alerts on the morning after. I hate those feelings of anxiety of waiting for a text message or phone call when you kind of expect one and it doesn’t come. Staring at the phone, checking it every 5 minutes to make sure the battery didn’t die or just incase the alert for a new message didn’t go off.  Or putting a text message out there and then trying to kill all those agonizing hours afterwards before it gets returned, if it DOES get returned.

 Eric also touches on casual dating. I’ve never casually dated more than one guy at a time, ever. That seems like a coward’s way of saying “I like playing the field and keeping my options open”. I wouldn’t want to feel like I was a contestant on The Bachelor, and I certainly wouldn’t like knowing he might be out with another chick having a great time if I was into him, you know? I guess I’m just not built for that kind of dating.

 RB: I'm going to reverse address your points for a reason that'll become clear shortly:

The casual dating thing is... so strange.  My senior year of college, it could be argued that I was "casually dating" two girls but I don't think any of us considered it that and there was not actually any direct overlap.  I have friends who juggle several "casual" things until one starts to heat up... and that's just weird to me.  I'm probably, out of my friends, the most interested in getting close to somebody and finding that person but at the same time I don't feel the need to play the field so aggressively in order to make it happen.  I'm not opposed to going on like several first dates or even having a first date in the midst of planning a second date with someone else - but honestly, from about that point (and even before that, really), it just doesn't make sense to me.  Focus, people!

 Funny enough, the texting-and-waiting thing happened to me today.  Not a morning after thing but a friend bailed on seeing a show with me tonight and an old flame had just crossed my radar (full disclosure: it’s a failure to launch sort of thing – bad timing, mixed signals, ended up just staying friends) and so I texted her to see if she'd want to see the show and then it was that ".....has my phone buzzed?  was that my phone?  did I actually press send?  maybe she's in a meeting or a rehearsal or something.  But maybe she's ignoring me" situation.  

It's the worst, that ability to have constant connection and then the need that it engenders in you to be constantly connected.

Which brings me to the final point, the phone calls thing.  You mention running down memory lane - I actually got a little choked up doing exactly the same thing.  In high school, I did that ALL THE TIME.  Even well into college, on vacations and stuff - I love the idea of talking on the phone for hours and asking the questions and learning the things and even though you're falling asleep, not wanting to get off the phone because you're having this moment, even if it's the same moment you've had seven nights out of the last two weeks.  And I used to have to go to school the next morning and all that... or my parents would shout up to my room and be like "oh my god get off the phone and go to bed", in the most traditional 90s sitcom way.  
But yeah, that has absolutely faded.  Most of my friends will tell you that they hate talking on the phone - even with their significant others, etc.  The last few girls I've dated in even the most casual of ways (let alone my recent ex) all said exactly that: they find talking on the phone awkward, uncomfortable, weird, etc..  I've just never found it that way - it's the closest you can get to actually being with the person when you can't be with them.  There's something intimate about cradling the phone (although, ugh, I hate cradling my cellphone, I do - the heat and the probably terrible radio waves and all that) in your ear that just doesn't happen in the same way when you're staring at someone's face on a screen or typing words back and forth.  Constant text messaging doesn't even feel the same way - it's just not the same thing.  And I know that my kids will (barring some apocalypse) never get to understand that (more) analog way of romance... and that my spouse and I probably won't even have that courtship, in the same way that we grew up courting people - but at least we'll understand it.  

 So yeah, that section had me by the heartstrings in a Nicholas Sparks, don't-tell-anyone-I-reacted-like-that kind of way.  

 I also read the chapter just before watching an episode of Elementary (which isn't even a guilty pleasure anymore, it's so good) and there was a great quote from Holmes that got me in the same way: "I often wonder if I should have been born at another time. Ours is an era of distraction. It's a punishing drumbeat of constant input. It follows us into our homes and into our beds. It seeps into our... into our souls, for want of a better word."

TNBBC: The all night phone call thing was one of my favorite parts of meeting someone new. I’m glad you know what I am talking about. I was afraid it died a long time ago!! Hiding down in the basement on the phone so my mom or dad wouldn’t know I was chatting the night away. My oldest (16) never uses the phone to talk. He is all about texting girls instead. It’s kind of sad. Even though he isn’t a geek in any of the senses this book refers to, I’ve already lightly suggested he take a look at this book. I think it might be just what he needs. And I’d love to  see HIS reactions to it! 

I like that Holmes quote. Very interesting and relevant.

Oh, and within C6, that whole section about spending time part, and making solo time for your friends… Making time for friends? Spending time apart? Ha! Once you get serious with someone, get married, have kids, those things fade to the background so quickly and quietly you don’t even know they are gone. Of course, you get ‘couple friends’ that you share, running errands ends up becoming your solo trip out (re: escape), and the kids after-school activities becoming your gaming and reading time. Lordy, I can barely remember what it’s like to have single friends to hang out with!

RB: Aw, I'd love to hear a 16 year old's reactions to this book.  Because I do think that's really Eric's target with this book - not even the twentysomething geeks but the ones who are gonna get to the last chapter and go "marriage?! yuck!" or, well, maybe slightly more mature than that... but then, several years later, they'll be like "hey, that book actually stuck with me and helped me."  

 MAN, the spending time with friends thing is such... I see it with my parents, too.  I've heard the saying, that your circle of friends is never really any larger than it is in your early twenties (which, I leapt towards that downhill slope - although I've always kept a pretty tiny circle anyway) - but I feel like you're so right.  You're naturally going to spend more time with your spouse... and then your kids... and I mean, right there, BAM, there's at least 18 years plus however many years between oldest and youngest.  Maybe in the early days, you're still doing the friends thing - and it's not like you're ignoring them or something... but it's that whole life-priorities thing.  Plus, I feel like a group of friends will tend to marry within the same general period of time if they're all in the same places in their lives, etc.  I just had a friend get married from my class in school (to another friend, from our class) and all of us city-dwellers are just bamboozled by it - but the class above us, they're marrying off like its a race and they all live here in the city. 

TNBBC: Yeah, it’d be neat to see how my oldest reacts to the book, but there’s one small problem, he only likes to read sports books! I wonder if I slip a sports cover dust jacket over the book…? Hmph.

 The marrying off and having babies thing seems to happen in waves around me. The people at work, friend couples of ours, my brother and my husband’s siblings, at certain points in my life it felt like everyone I knew was either marrying or announcing a baby on the way. I used to blame it on the water, ha! To be honest, I like couple friends better. They have the same hectic kind of schedule, like to spend time with their SO’s, so they’re not as needy and complainy when you can’t or don’t make a lot of time for them. I do sneak out every so often, over the course of a year, and hit up a book sale with a fellow blogger buddy of mine, and I’ve had “girls brunch out” dates before too. But they are few and far between and usually get reschedule a gazillion times before we actually match schedules. Let’s face it, the older I get, the more I realize and accept the fact that time like that is a luxury I just don’t have access to any more.

RB: –Alright, so I guess that brings us to the end.   I feel like the whole last chapter (or even the second-half of C6 and the last chapter) felt very considered and, in a way, less geeky?  There were still so many references, of course, and I liked his ideas of how to merge worlds in terms of geekdoms... but C7 felt so much more universal than geek-specific.  And I really loved that - it was a way to say that even if you're not a geek or you're a minor geek and you're reading this just for fun, there's still stuff to be learned here.  You can laugh at the geeky ways he describes things in earlier chapters... but the way he handles the serious stuff is with real tenderness (both the good and the bad serious stuff) and anybody, anybody on that list that the secretary gives Principal Rooney in Ferris Bueller of all the different kids who think Ferris is a cool dude, can find some piece of advice they've maybe never heard before and that helps them out in their next relationship.  
 I mean, I found my heart salved by some of the things he said, specifically because he didn't employ those cliches and reading the things you ought to consider in the breaking-up-process I found myself saying "...yeah, that was the right decision, it was."

 There's just so much heart in this book.  Everything is considered and funny and he genuinely "wants you to succeed" and while that phrase makes me cringe a little, I mean it so honestly.  This book feels like a labor of love and as a result everything about it feels genuine.  And that's awesome, because (and I know it's Eric so it wouldn't've been but in a hypothetical world) this book could have been a joke.  And/or creepy/skeevy.  And it really wasn't that (except the kissy bit.  The more I think about it, the more I think that maybe could've been kept out...) 

TNBBC: C7 was the most hard hitting chapter for me. The 19 year long relationship my hubby and I share (dating 4 years, married 15) wasn’t always an easy one, so from his pointers on co-habitation to recovering from a break-up, to struggling through “do I really want this to be over”.. oh lordy, did I HAVE ALL THE FEELS and then some.

 The co-habitation part, omg, as I read through it, I thought to myself what if you’re like Felixand he’s like Oscar? Can you be ok with your man’s dirty clothes all over the floor, the toilet seat left up with the rim covered in urine drippings? Can your man handle your need to have all the dishes in the skin washed immediately, and your refusal to take out the garbage? What about leaving the bed unmade, replacing the roll of toilet paper, capping the toothpaste, hair left in the drain? I’m a huge believer in living together before you get married because so many relationships fail when two people move in together for all of those reasons and more. My hubby was the piggy one and I was the neat and clean one. 19 years and two kids later, I’ve learned to live in the mess while the hubs learned how to clean up a bit more often. Whoda thunk!

Wrapping this all up with the break-up – shit! I’ve been on both sides. When I’ve broken it off with boyfriends, I’ve always been blunt to the point of bad, but my theory was “off like a bandaid”. I always thought it was best that way. Being on the other side was of a break up was always devastating to me, though. I would immediately go into starvation mode, unable to eat, teary eyed at every little reminder, every stupid picture or tv show that had couples in it, dying to call and text to try to fix things, and sadly, I’ve totally done the whole “friends with benefits” leaving myself available for booty calls as a ploy to lure an ex back in (for shame, I know!). To be honest, all those things Eric says throughout the book about a relationship building character and upping your experience and causing you to look inside yourself for what goes well and what isn’t working… spot the fuck on, brother!

All that being said, I agree that Eric handled every section of this book incredibly well. I felt like I could see the whole evolution from single, unconfident, quirky geek to a well prepared and more worldly, more mature dating animal by the time the book was over. And I could see myself and my past and current relationship mirrored back to me in so many of its pages.

Seeing your reactions to each section, and interacting with you throughout the book was really cool. I mean, looking at what we each brought to this review experiment, this read-a-long could not have been more perfect, don’t you agree?

RB: I totally agree, this couldn't've been more perfect - or more fun.  

Joint Rating of 5!  Huzzah!

Drew Broussard reads, a lot. When not doing that, he's writing stories or playing music or acting or producing or coming up with other ways to make trouble.  He also has a day job at The Public Theater in New York City.


  1. Ah, I finally read the whole thing! Really interesting to hear about the book from two different points of view. I am definitely relating more with you over here at @TNBBC though, since I'm quite happily married and been together with my husband (dating plus married years) 12 years now. I find myself nodding about dealing with living with someone, and the circle of friends not really getting bigger once you get married (seriously I do not have much time), but I do try "talk" to bookish people online, and keep in touch with my RL friends through it too. That's the extent of my socializing online. I also agree with both of you on missing the phone calls thing - I also miss doing that with my best friend, but I think phone calls got taken over with emails for me, and then by instant messaging. And before that I used to actually write letters to my friends and I have a huge pile of mail from that somewhere. Now I'm always on gchat with my husband - I get that happiness from being connected but I can walk away from the conversation without him reading anything into it. Which is awesome.
    Anyway. It feels like is the sort of book that when you talk about it with someone, it reveals a lot about the reader.

  2. Hey Janicu, thanks so much for reading the entire review series. I, too, agree that this book, when read along with someone else, helps you really get an inside peek into your own, and someone else's geeky relationship stuff. I think this is the PERFECT read along book. And it was loads of fun to chat about as we went! So glad to hear how much you connected with the married-life perspective. It's interesting, looking back, isn't it?