Fun_People Archive
2 May
Life with a Techie

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Thu,  2 May 96 13:41:12 -0700
To: Fun_People
Subject: Life with a Techie

Forwarded-by: bdws <>
Forwarded-by: Karen Downing <>
Forwarded-by: <a number of people who shall remain nameless>
By:  Shirley Clawson

So you've found yourself attracted to a computer nerd.  (Sorry techies; that
IS what those of us that exist in the real world call you.)  Spousal units
and significant others (collectively referred to herein as "SO's") who have
long endured the idiosyncrasies of their techie mates have banded together
to provide the unsuspecting "future significant other" a peek at existence
with:  THE TECHIE.  But first, a couple of disclaimers:  All persons and
events portrayed in this article are real and any resemblance to actual
people or incidents is entirely intentional.  Techies portrayed herein are
of the male variety but male SO's have confirmed that they experience the
same phenomenon in relation to their female techies.

To properly co-exist with a techie, you must first understand three basic
premises on which his view of the world is based:

     1. There is a proper order in the universe.  Computers come first;
	significant others somewhere thereafter.
     2. Programmers, while reluctantly admitting (subsequent to intense
	pressure) that they are not God, are however, equal to God.
     3. Computer illiterate people are complete morons.

These three premises result in techies having a drastically different way
of thinking as compared to the average person.  This unique approach to life
will be exhibited on a daily basis in many subtle ways:

==============	   =======================	===========================
Ideal Vacation	   Tahiti			Las Vegas -- during Comdex
Shopping Trip	   New wardrobe			Computer bookstore
Eating Out	   Chez Romantic		Vending machine at the office
Fun Weekend	   Picnic in the mountains	Non-stop programming
6 A.M.		   Romantic sunrise		Late night of programming
Dinner party	   Friends,  Conversation	Victims to view latest hack
Tax Time	   Call an accountant		Order a tax  package for SO
Share Housework	   50/50			Refrain from complaining
Time w/Children	   Interactive Learning		Barbies next to keyboard

It is true that techies rarely subscribe to GQ magazine, but, in all
fairness, let's dispense with the slide-rule, taped glasses, white,
button-down shirt stereotype.  They no longer wear slide- rules; laptops
are in.  Taped glasses - well, ok, sometimes.  White shirts have been
replaced by t-shirts and flowered Hawaiian atrocities.  "Dressing up" for
a special occasion entails putting on jeans and a wrinkled shirt with a
collar.  If you happen to be domestically inclined, don't bother ironing
shirts (or if you're not, feeling guilty about NOT ironing them) because
pressed shirts are simply not a priority in a Techie's life and neither he
nor any of his contemporaries will notice that the shirt he's wearing looks
like it's been trapped between his mattress and box springs for a year.

[Note: Next two paragraphs binding only in the state of California...  -psl]

Material possessions are of vital importance to the techie.  Of paramount
importance is:  THE CAR.  The cost of this is directly proportional to the
size of:  THE EGO.  There are two types of vehicles owned by techies:  1966
Station wagons with deteriorating wood on the sides OR the most expensive
vehicle income will allow.  (Neither category would be caught dead, however,
driving a car with a Mary Kay bumper sticker attached.) Single techies can
be identified by their dumpy apartments, frayed clothing and impeccably
maintained Ferraris.

Techies with vehicles in the second category assemble their machines for
the annual Testosterone 500.  Grown men gather at an area race track, spend
90 percent of the day walking around bragging about their car to anyone who
will listen and devote the balance of the time tearing around on a track
hoping they won't kill themselves.  What we are witnessing is NOT simply a
car race, but rather a battle of the egos.  This same group of techies has
also mastered the art of maneuvering discussion of THE CAR into every

The home computer system is another source of competition.  Our family of
four (techie, SO, 8 and 2 year old) is the proud owner of six computers,
seven monitors, three laser printers, two dot matrix printers, two scanners,
two optical disk drives, a CD ROM drive, and four boxes of cables that
"might come in handy someday".  Most appalling of all is that the 2 year
old is limited to a 286 with an EGA!  HORRORS!  Special effort is made to
explain to visiting techies that we are in the process of upgrading her

Other elaborate electronic devices run a close second to the "home computer
competition".  Techies must always have the latest and the best of any
electronic device on the market and they MUST be the first in their group
to own one.  We have established true superiority with our home PBX phone
system with the capacity to handle 10 incoming lines, conference calls, 45
auto-dial numbers and, best of all, music on hold.  Oh, and our answering
machine has voice mail capabilities, can receive fax transmissions and makes

As you've probably already noticed, dating a techie has special challenges
and rewards.  Although your social hours are restricted to 11:00 p.m. - 3:00
a.m., you do have the opportunity to meet other SO's who, like you, are
hanging around the office waiting for "just one more compile".  A techie's
estimate of "15 more minutes" generally means they will appear an hour or
two later having absolutely no clue that more than 15 minutes has passed.

If you do manage to convince your techie to take a vacation, plan on his
inspecting the computer system at every hotel, gas station, restaurant, car
rental agency and airline.  Expect him to make suggestions for improvements
to busboys, valets, maids and waiters, none of whom have the remotest
interest in their establishment's computer system, much less any influence
in this arena.  Keep in mind also that no matter where you go, techies will
find each other.  The first trip I, my sweetie and his portable computer
took together was to Europe.  I was one of the lucky few to be dating a man
who owned one of the first portable computers manufactured, which of course
automatically entitled us to first class service everywhere.  He no sooner
had placed the computer on the airline tray table than six fellow techies
leaped to his side to discuss the merits of the computer.  Personal
conversation with my traveling companion totalled ten minutes out of a six
hour flight.

Lunching with a group of techies is comparable to being dropped into a
remote village in central Albania, with one major difference:  Sign language
is completely useless.  They are speaking a foreign language and they are
completely oblivious to this fact.  My suggestion:  Don't bother going.  No
one will notice that you were there anyway, including your techie.

Parties dominated by techies are truly exciting experiences.  Techies have
never developed the art of smalltalk (their computers don't require this
attribute) so don't expect to see a techie talking to a non-techie.  If a
techie was forced to bring his SO, he will feel obligated, however, to
forego technical discussions for at least the first ten minutes.

If you are unfortunate enough to be an SO with a "real job", you will
encounter additional difficulties.  The techie cannot fathom anyone going
to work earlier than 10:00 a.m.  He will tell you to simply inform your boss
that you won't be starting until then.

Techies are very well read.  They devour books and articles on such exciting
topics as memory management, VXD's, and debugging, but give them a book on
relationships and watch the panic spread across their faces.  Mention a
couples workshop you think both of you should attend and watch those
deadlines move up.

At some point in their relationship, the SO must reveal to the techie that
a romantic holiday does not entail bringing along a portable computer,
stacks of computer magazines and a trunkload of listings.  They will be
expected to spend an entire weekend without their computer!  If you make it
through this traumatic experience, a marriage or move-in-together proposal
may be in the air.  Expect any proposal to be very practical.  Important
issues such as what kind of dog you will get, how much money will be
allotted to ego-related purchases, and how much space will be allocated for
the special, hands-off place for his computers in your future home must be
settled before a techie will even consider a permanent relationship.
(Critical tip:  This allotted space will double in size within six months,
often spewing out into other areas of your home if you have not planned
ahead.)  Your wedding date will be arranged around development conferences,
COMDEX, and technical crises.

If, at some point in your relationship, you decide to have children, you
will have to fit baby-making in between compiles.  If you do manage to
conceive, take a few photographs of your techie to tape over the baby's crib
so your child will recognize your techie's face as well as his back.

On a personal level, the techie is very supportive of his significant other.
When I decided to diet, my techie stood by me and agreed to diet with me;
as long as he didn't have to give up Pepsi and Twinkies.  When I determined
that I needed a new look, he promised not to laugh when I came back with a
new hairdo, and agreed to unlimited funding for purchases made at lingerie
[Pepsi!?  Whooo boy!  That sure lets me off the hook...  -psl]

The techie is also an accomplished gift-giver.  Just last month, for my
birthday, my techie gave me a Bug Zapper.  (You know, one of those things
that vaporizes the bugs flying around on your patio.)  It seems he "heard
me mention that we should get one." Guess he missed the references to the
diamond necklace and pearl earrings.  Last Christmas I was the proud
recipient of a portable toolkit -- it's a beaut.

Well, I'd better close now.  I'm due for my 10:43 appointment to review the
1991 COMDEX floor plan with you-know-who.  Never a dull moment.....

Biography:  The author is married to a techie who denies exhibiting any of
the aforementioned behavior and feigned ignorance when asked if he noticed
these characteristics in any of his fellow techies.

(c) Copyright 1991 by Shirley Clawson, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

[Well, all I can say is THAT'S NOT FUNNY!  -psl]

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