The Mischievous Nerd's Guide to World Domination
Author: Stephen Oberauer

Chapter 21
What good is a phone call if youíre unable to speak?

Being a nerd has its obvious problems. My lack of socializing with other humans lately had caused me to lose a lot of social skill. When I would talk to people I had to try to stop myself from trying to train them as had become my natural instinct. Girls were especially difficult to speak to, and pretty girls – impossible.

I subscribed to an on-line newsletter, called ‘The Don Juan’, which gave its readers insight into the female brain, and what attracts her to a man. I had learnt that the key was confidence. The newsletter also suggested that one phone a girl rather than emailing her. I was not sure that I agreed with that, but I thought I would give it a try, and give Kirsty, who had just arrived in Cape Town, a call.

I brought the phone from the passage into my room, closed the door and sat down on my bed. I was intending to show her how confident and comfortable I was with her, but suddenly became very nervous. I picked up the phone and then put it down. This was not going to work. ‘I can’t do it!’ I decided to write down what I was going to say to her. Perhaps that would give me a bit of confidence and I wouldn’t have to worry about what to say.

I picked up the phone again. My hand was shaking slightly. Why was this so difficult? I remembered a book that I had read about conquering fear. The book’s advice was to ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’. I repeated that a few times in my head and then dialled the number. As soon as the phone started ringing on the other side I put down the phone. ‘That was so stupid’, I told myself.

30 seconds later the phone rang. I got a little fright, but felt as if I had to answer it straight away before my parents picked it up downstairs. ‘He-hello,’ I stuttered nervously.

‘Hi, its Kirsty here. Is that Nathan?’

I froze for a few seconds and then answered ‘Yes’.

‘Did you call me a few seconds ago?’ she asked.

‘Yes’, I replied, trying to think of more to say than ‘Yes’.

‘We have caller ID, so I just called this number. How are you?’

‘I’m fine thanks. How are you?’

‘Doing well. My friend, Michelle is here. We’re watching the movie “Eraser” with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Have you seen it?’

‘No,’ I replied.

‘Would you like to?’ she asked.

‘Yes, I probably will rent it one day’, I replied, unsure as to whether she was inviting me around and not wanting to sound like an idiot, but doing so anyway.

There was silence.

‘Well, it was nice talking to you. Bye.’

Was the conversation over already? We had not even made any plans. ‘Uh, okay, bye,’ I said.

That stupid Don Juan newsletter! Why had it given me such bad advice? I really should not have called. I did however realise that if I did not make plans to see her that day I may not be able to get the courage to call her again. I would email her.

I sent her an email, and as usual, made it wait until the next day. I didn’t want it to seem as if I had typed it up straight after making the phone call. In the email I asked her if she’d like to see me, and gave a few suggestions of places that we could go to and things we could do.

She did not reply. I only realised after I had sent the email that she may not have had internet access in South Africa. The next day I phoned her. Despite not wanting to sound any stupider, I forced myself to do it. The phone rang for a long time before she picked up. ‘Kirsty here.’

‘Hi Kirsty, its Nathan. What’s new and exciting?’ I asked, trying to sound cool.

‘Lydia’s here. We’re trying to think of something fun to do,’ she said casually, giving me the perfect opportunity to give some ideas.

‘Would you and Lydia like to come around here and do some canoeing?’ I asked.

‘I’ll ask her and call you back.’

‘Okay, bye.’

‘Bye.’

A minute later she called back.

‘Lydia’s not really interested in canoeing,’ she told me.

‘Okay, bye.’

‘Bye.’

Another minute passed and she called back again.

‘Would you like me to come visit you this afternoon?’ she asked.

‘Yes, that would be great,’ I replied.

She laughed and said, ‘Cool, I can be there in about two hours. How does that sound?’

‘Perfect! That gives me time to brush my hair,’ I replied, trying to be funny.

My parents’ house was the perfect place for a date. I felt confident there and was able to show off all of my cool stuff and give people a good impression of who I really was. On top of that it was a very romantic venue with the lake view and my cosy attic bedroom. When I’m out somewhere I tend to appear boring, because I’m not good at holding conversations with strangers, and I hate trying to hold a conversation when there’s lots of noise. I was incredibly excited to know that the girl of my dreams whom I had not seen in years was coming to visit me.

Two hours later the doorbell rang. I ran downstairs and answered the door. Kirsty was just as gorgeous as I had remembered. She seemed a little bit shorter than I had remembered, probably because I used to be shorter than her. She held out her arms to give me a hug. I squeezed her back, closed my eyes and breathed in the rose scent in her hair. I intended to hold on until she let go, but I guess she had the same idea, because she didn’t let go. It was the best feeling in the world. ‘This is nice,’ I pointed out after a minute of holding her in my arms.

‘I’m enjoying it too,’ she replied.

We walked inside. My parents were standing in the kitchen next to the entrance and greeted Kirsty. I don’t know how, but my mom had remembered me talking about the girl with the silver streak who asked me to dance with her, and spotted the streak in her hair immediately. She gave me a look that said ‘Hey, is that her?!’ to which I responded with a nod that said ‘Absolutely!’

I showed Kirsty around the house and ended up at the highest room of the house; my room. My room resembled a small computer and gadgets shop combined with a recording studio, one that had far too much equipment and not enough space. ‘I want to show you my secret project’, I told Kirsty, ‘I haven’t told anyone about this, except my parents, but they didn’t really understand.’

‘What makes you think I will understand then?’ she asked while her eyes wandered around the room, ‘Do you know what? This is exactly what I imagined your room would look like.’

‘Why were you imagining what my room would look like?’ I asked.

‘Well, you invited me around, and I was thinking about what your house would be like’, she replied slowly.

‘Alright, check this out!’ I said excitedly. I had switched on the computer and my program was up and running. On the screen was the video transmission from my pet spider. It was a view of the front door from the inside.

‘Oh, you have a surveillance camera,’ she said, not sounding terribly impressed.

‘No, its a little bit more than that’, I responded and pulled the microphone towards me. ‘John, come upstairs, there’s someone I want you to meet’, I told the microphone.

‘Who’s John?’ Kirsty whispered.

‘You’ll see’, I whispered back.

‘Command acknowledged’, the computer responded and the view started to move.

‘That’s your voice’, Kirsty pointed out.

‘Yes, I taught it to speak, so it speaks in my voice’, I responded.

‘What is “it”?’ she asked as the view on my computer monitor changed to a little elevator that I had made with some wood, string, pulleys and an electric motor. The view became that of a ladder, and was moving upwards slowly.

‘“It” is a robot.’ The spider was getting near to my room, and as it approached the door an eerie feeling came over me, and probably over Kirsty too, who was leaning forward and staring at the monitor.

Two feet appeared in the monitor at which point Kirsty commented, ‘I have the same shoes as...’ She screamed hysterically and jumped up onto my bed at the sight of the large, approaching spider.

‘Is everything okay?’ my dad shouted from downstairs, having heard Kirsty’s screams.

‘Yes, everything’s fine, she just saw my spider’, I shouted back. ‘Sorry about that’, I told Kirsty, who was beginning to calm down, but still taking deep breaths. I sat next to her on the bed and gave her a hug. She hugged back and as earlier, didn’t let go. I think it was the best day of my life so far.

‘How would you like to go out on a date tonight,’ I asked her. ‘There’s a movie called “Harry Potter” that’s on at the cinema tonight,’ I explained, remembering that the Don Juan newsletter suggested that one always have something specific in mind when asking a girl on a date. ‘It’s supposed to be quite good.’

‘I’d love to,’ she replied.

Kirsty stayed in South Africa for another four weeks. I spent every weekend with her and took some time off work too. She didn’t want me driving to her place in the evenings because she was worried about all the car hijackings which were common in South Africa. As you can imagine, when it was time to say goodbye I was as miserable as a grumpy old man at a funeral.

 

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