The fastest way to a nerd’s heart is with Toy Story shoes

I live in Canada, but I’ve been listen to NPR religiously. I love the CBC, but I prefer how NPR reporters deliver the news. There could be a zombie apocalypse in Iowa, but the reporter’s voices would still lull me into a false sense security—which has been beneficial during this election cycle.  

Last Friday (Oct 21), I went to a live taping of the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast—NPR’s roundtable about books, movies, and music. 

I love PCHH  because the panel discussion resemble the conversations I have with my friends. In fact, the hosts, Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, Glen Wheldon, (and formerly Trey Graham) could easily stand in for any one of my friends; they’e articulate, have great taste, and will childishly defend a movie or song they love to the death, regardless of what anyone thinks. 

When Trey Graham left the show abruptly a few years ago, I almost took it personally. It was like a roommate moving out in the middle of the night without saying goodbye. 


The show’s format is this: first they discusses a current film, television series, book, or play; then they talk about a trope or theme in popular culture, and  conclude with “What’s making me happy now,” where each panelist talks about a book movie, article, album, or show they are currently enjoying. I’ve got a ton of good recommendations out of “What’s making me happy now.”

I must admit, I went to the taping in the hopes of meeting a hot nerd. I even spent $100 on a pair of Toy Story Vans to tip the odds in my favour. 

My pathetic attempts at dating aside, it was kind of cool to be in a theatre full of people who listen to the same show I do. “So this is what my tribe looks like,” I told the friend I brought along who doesn’t follow pop culture at all. 

Turns out  my tribe pretty much looks like a version of me—average looks; healthy, but not body conscious. There was a woman sitting directly in front of us who looked exactly like Terry Gross; I was almost convinced it was her, but we were way up in the balcony. 

I was also looking forward to seeing Linda Holmes in person. I totally have a gay-boy crush on Linda Holmes. If Linda and I were in high school together, we would have totally been friends.

Aside from being an amazing writer, Linda Holmes reminds me of a roommate I had in the 90’s. I’m almost certain Linda Holmes and I are the same age, so we have a lot of pop culture references in common, and despite coming from completely different backgrounds, we share a similar backstory—awkward kids who escaped into books and TV.

Linda Holmes once told a story on the podcast about how a guy in high school was paid two dollars to dance with her. The story endeared me to her because she told it without shame or embarrassment. As painful as the incident must have been at the time, I didn’t feel sorry for her, because she obviously got the last laugh.

Linda Holmes is the glue that holds PCHH together. She’s an excellent moderator, she has a great voice, and she’s usually the only girl in the room. Granted, Glen Wheldon is gay, but Linda Holmes “represents” nonetheless. To be completely honest, I’m less likely to listen to the podcast if Linda Holmes isn’t on it. As much as I love Steve Thompson and Glen Wheldon, they’re not as good as Linda Holmes at curating a conversation. 

For example, one time Glen Wheldon quizzed the other panelists on comic books, but the answers were so obscure, no one was able to guess the right answer (well maybe one or two). After a while it became torture to listen to because it was like he getting revenge for anyone that had made fun of him for being a nerd. 

The conversation for the live show revolved around Halloween candy, which was heavy on peanut oriented chocolate bars. This was followed by a lively discussion about binge-watching a show with your partner. They did make a valid point that liking the same show as someone your dating does not make them your soulmate. 

As much as I enjoyed the show, the highlight of the evening was when two people complimented me on Toy Story shoes. I may have left the theatre still single and closer to becoming best friends with Linda Holmes, but now I now what my tribe looks like and which shoes attract them. 

You can hear the show I saw in person below:

About garpinbc

Author of the forthcoming "Same Love" published by Lorimer, as well as the memoir "Foodsluts at Doll & Penny's Cafe", and the YA short, "Haters Gotta Hate".
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