Thursday, July 26, 2012

The awkward Sherlockian.

The recent rise of our man Holmes to the surface of popular culture is a-rockin’ my old school Sherlockian world a bit these days.

It used to be that Sherlock Holmes didn’t come up much in my everyday social life. When I was with other fans, sure, he came up a lot. We spoke a common language, and life was easy. Either I was with Sherlockians or I wasn’t. Maybe I wasn’t the best Sherlockian ambassador to the world outside our little hobby, but it all seemed to work out.

But now, with the new wave of popularity, I can be at a party and someone introduces me with something like, “This is Brad, he likes Sherlock Holmes, too.”


A lifelong obsession with Sherlock Holmes, decades of study, discussion, and experience, has just been matched up with someone who saw a couple of movies and, if I'm lucky, the PBS TV series. Maybe they even read a few of the short stories back in junior high. This is basically a very good thing. Sherlock-talk good!

Not to be a fan of very large ego (about to prove same), but it’s a little like dropping a high-performance speedboat into a park pedal-boat lagoon. If the speedboat does its normal thing, calamity will ensue. There’s a reason the crazed fan tends to come off as geeky – we aren’t used to dropping into “idle” at the mention of the object of our obsession. And yet, that’s exactly what is called for in such a moment. Do not rev the engine and start spewing Holmes trivia. Do not bring up past glories or gripes in a circuit most people have never heard of.  Do not over-correct the few details they may have picked up wrongly right away. At that moment, one just has to look to the lowest common denominator between “boats.”

Speedboat, meet pedal-boat. Isn’t being in water nice?

Perhaps the first step in socializing awkward cult Sherlockians like myself into working Sherlock into normal life is to come up with a default mantra, so we don’t start overthinking right away in such situations.

“Sherlock Holmes is cool.“

“Sherlock Holmes is cool.”

“Sherlock Holmes is cool.”

Only needs to be said once, in reality, but internally, it can slow the racing engine until it can be slipped into a lower gear with a question such as, “Which Sherlock do you like best, Downey or Cumberbatch?”

From there, normal conversation can proceed, and maybe even get somewhere close to the more esoteric Sherlockian planes. Maybe. It would have been nice if all this popularity had happened when some of us were younger and more flexible.

Oh, wait, it did. That’s why some of us are at this party, having followed the wave of the 1970s. There’s just some rust that needs to be knocked off the old engine that we might not have known was there.

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