Perhaps when you look at me you will suspect nothing. I don't have buck teeth and thick glasses. I wear clothes that are (arguably) up to date, I have a good job and a gorgeous girlfriend. But I am a nerd in the most literal sense of the world. Up until my early twenties I was an avid roleplayer, I still consider boardgames one of my major hobbies, I play World of Warcraft and whatever I do I always do it a little too much.
This summer I took up baking. It started with a little web browsing on sourdough and a few experiments at home. Then, as always, it just spun out of control. Before I knew it I was ordering baking bibles on the internet. Big fat volumes with very few images, dense with complex baking theory. I brought home proofing baskets, thermometers, spatulas and expensive flours. My jeans constantly smudged with white powder. The freezer filled to the top with halves of bread that are simply two many for us to eat.
And, to be honest, even though every loaf took about twenty-four hours to make the bread isn't that much better than the average stuff you bake over three hours from the back of the flour package.
So what's the point? people ask. Why go through that much trouble for such a measly result? Well, there is of course the hope that one day the bread will be just amazing and truly outshine everything I ever ate before. But to really answer the question I need you to understand the mind of the nerd. See, the question is really the other way around. The result is really just a biproduct of the hobby. The nerd needs a challenge for the mind, and hobbies that don't take up a lot of energy and time are just not worthwhile. Mediocre end results are frustrating, of course. But really it just means I get to spend a little more time trying to master my hobby. Dive back into the books, go over the procedure and try to zoom in on what I did wrong.
In the end I will make that fantastic loaf, which will surely give me a sweet thrill of success. But us nerds are restless souls. If there's nowhere to go from there, if there's nothing more to learn, then I will have to trash the apron and go find myself a new hobby.