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Weekend at a Nerd Convention
“Your greatest regret,” they tell us,
“Will be the things you did not do.”
The lecture hall’s warm and sleepy, at odds
with our tentative smiles,
our nervous laughter,
our cautious stares that flick around the room.
“Today you have come here as scholars,” they say,
“To show us the best—if you can.”
They smile their jaded smiles, as if
the decision is made;
As if they had known from your entrance
who would stay, and thus—who would lose.
You feel like you might be a winner
compared to the rest—but you know
that Reality takes no bribes.
And so the discussion commences.
And so the battle begins.
You once had a chance but your hopes meet their doom in
Her. She takes all your answers, expounds them,
To all others you work as a team.
She rides above the tumult—
you ride above the tumult too, but
you know who is leading.
You are not the one leading.
The panelists cannot forestall her
from brilliance, ease with herself.
She knows all the answers they’re seeking,
they seek all the answers she’s giving.
She calmly impresses her logic
onto the pattern of your mind.
“Time’s up,” they say, and it’s over.
“We’ll notify you in a week.”
Then people clap your shoulder, tell you
“Great job, but thank God it’s over!”
And you know that it’s not over
She walks ahead to one side, by herself.
You walk up to her and observe
the name that’s pinned to her chest.
You say the name and she glances—
not one of those misty-eyed glances—
But a smile of open gratitude
As she thanks you for helping back there
in the room. You weren’t expecting this tone
but you tell her it was no problem,
that she was pretty
the judges thought she was impressive.
And she thanks you with her eyes.
Then she tells you where she lives,
what she hopes to do with her future.
And you try to do the same,
gazing into that honest face--
a face you respect, that radiates respect,
and you share that understanding.
“Proceed to your rooms,” the loudspeaker shrieks
and you realize that you won’t be staying,
you tell her that you won’t be staying.
She nods and says goodbye—
you wave as you head for the door,
and tell her you’ll see her later
even though you won’t see her later.
Except in your mind, hours later
when you realize—but for now you walk out
with your coat and
The things you did not do.