Monday, March 09, 2015

Play Dates With Engineers

     The joke starts like this: Four nuclear engineers, an aerodynamicist, a social worker, a behavioral therapist, and a writer go to a bar... I'm sure you're dying to hear the punchline. Me too. This was the assemblage at my house last night for a raucous game of Cards Against Humanity.
     Before I continue my story, let me just pause here for a moment to wax poetic about this game. I am 38 years old. For approximately all of those years, I've had a very repressed inner bad girl. Normal children play chase on the playground. In preschool, me and my two best (male) friends played Give-The-Pregnant-Tiger-A-C-Section. I didn't just play doctor, I played gynecologist. My Barbies were swingers. I wrote a book report in 4th grade on Clan of the Cave Bear. And discovered bodice rippers as a genre in 5th grade when my friend smuggled me the dog-eared pages of Angel in Scarlet on the school bus (if memory serves, the deflowering of said Angel starts on page 118 ). It was an exciting time, but I got no end of shit for my unladylike interest in the world of carnal delights. Not appropriate, people were always telling me.
     In 8th grade, my friend Heather, who was, by all appearances, a stodgy school marm in the making, clued me in to her great secret and it was a revelation to me. She showed me that we could stick a homemade book jacket with Great Expectations on another book's cover, and we could read as much literary porn as we wanted, right under Mrs. McCleod's nose.The world was not ready for this side of Brittany, so I metaphorically wrapped myself in a brown paper grocery bag, stuck The Complete Works of Shakespeare on my metaphorical cover, and quietly went about my business being a good little bookworm. I think my close friends were never really fooled. But, being a naturally shy and reserved person, I had to know you pretty well before you got a glimpse of my dirty, dirty mind.
     In college, I got a job at the Carolina Renaissance Festival, and was actually paid to give my bawdy side free reign. I was a master of the High Strike game, because a picture of a knight was the highest level before the bell, and I can rock a double entendre. I spent all day, every day asking random passing men if they thought they could get it up three times a "knight", and conversely, yelling out to the crowd the number of strokes he required to "get it up" in the first place. In real life, I wouldn't even speak to a guy I didn't know, much less inquire about his daily sex habits. But it was entirely freeing for the seven week run of the festival. The other 45 weeks of the year, it was back to business as usual. Life marched on. I worked as a nanny. Got a job as a teacher. Had children of my own. It was definitely not the time or the place for any shenanigans.
     Then I moved to NY, and found my people. Either that, or, with 40 and middle-aged boredom bearing down on us, my contemporaries all realized at the same time that we're getting older and, screw decorum, we have nothing to prove to anyone anymore. It's time for shit to get real.
     And then along came Cards Against Humanity--the perfect social lubricant.
     The other day, I realized that Tom has gone out socially with friends of his own a grand total of four times during the course of our 14 year relationship. Let's all take a moment here to express our incredulity about his lack of social life with the expletive of our choice (Use a couple if you need to, I'm up to three or four.). Seriously, I do not know how this man lived before he met me. Left to his own devices, he'd probably turn into Howard Hughes (only without the penthouses and the staggering wealth). I am not one to let nonsense like this continue on my watch. I may not not be able to clean his house with any discernible skill, but I'm a mom, and I can arrange a play date like nobody's business.
     If I was arranging a play date for myself, the possibilities would be endless. I play very well with others, and literally know scads of bright, funny, entertaining, highly enjoyable people from every possible walk of life and interest group. But of these friends, there is one go-to group to whom I turn the most. Wives of Other Engineers. Otherwise known as the women of WOE.
     I only speak for myself (but I know I don't speak alone) when I say that it takes a certain kind of woman to marry an engineer. They're an odd bunch. Case in point, I once went to Tom's company picnic. Engineers as far as the eye could see. And no one was standing in the center of the room. I didn't know it was possible for a picnic pavilion to have so many corners, but the engineers found them, and then clustered themselves into these tucked away spaces in tiny, immobile groups. I can't explain it, and I don't want to. I like engineers. God knows somebody needs to do the math in this world, and nobody wants it to be me. While they're doing all the math, I'm freed up to enjoy their quick, agile minds, their funny logic, even funnier reasoning, and general world view that's so unlike mine.
  You'd think being so different from the rest of us, most engineers would seek out other engineers to marry. But, apparently, they're also a masochistic bunch, who fall in love with us quirky Humanities-lovers,  and then spend the rest of their lives frustrated with spouses who argue that pi is not a real number because it can't be used to count chickens (see funny logic and even funnier reasoning--it goes both ways apparently). Of my friends, more than a few are married to engineers, so when Tom needed a little social interaction, it was the WOEs I called.
     This is how I ended up with 5 engineers at my dining room table, playing the raunchiest of raunchy card games.
     I watch The Big Bang Theory a lot, and often wonder what it might be like to sit in Leonard and Sheldon's living room, and play games with the guys. I don't have to wonder anymore. Real life engineers are every bit as amusing as their TV counterparts. Nobody that regularly refers to things like erections, performance, vibrations, rigid bodies, thrust, and purge flows is going to be boring company. When you pair them up with the naughty former English major, who hungers for a long, broad canon, likes to work with bed tricks, deep structure, flesh sides, and on and off gliding (that eventually culminates in a great climax, and the requisite happy ending) you know you're in for a fun night.
     As you might imagine, my inner bad girl rejoiced.
    It was a great night of drinking, laughing, and carousing. I saw an entirely new side to my friends. I won't divulge the specifics. We all need our little secrets. But just like I learned in 8th grade, sometimes we hide our true selves away, behind the facade of boring bookworm or tightly-wound engineer. Whether it's Fundamentals of Heat and Mass Transfer or The Complete Works of Shakespeare, a lot of times, it's just a cover. From time to time, we all need a chance to open up.

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