In my dating life nerd-vana, love was all geek to me

I DO NOT want to tell you this.

Some of my stories, I won't write for you because they embarrass me. Some, because I think they would hurt people. And some because I don't know how to tell them.

Every week I come up with something to say, and the shallow veins do run out. There is only so much of a vein that you can mine before the whole thing collapses. The treasure you are cutting away is the mine itself, and it does not refill what it has lost. Someday I will reach the point past which I will not dig.

But I will tell you this.

All the men I've ever loved, or lusted for, have been of one type. Scott Adams made a joke of it when Dilbert got onto a billboard with a date hotline, but I would have called that number, or I would have had there not been so many geeky men around me even before I became dateable.

Oh, the glasses, the science fiction, the tech know-how, and the glasses, always the glasses. I don't know what I'll do if my husband and I get LASIK or we breed astigmatism out of the population. Who will be attractive? Will I force my groom to get wire-frame tattoos around his eyes?

Now a preference is one thing, but a positive limitation is another. If I'd had any sense, I would have been frightened when I saw the pattern. Counting up the guys who'd made me swoon in Stockton, in Lodi, in Berkeley, in San Francisco, I should have shivered at how large and clearly labeled my buttons were.

But I just thought I was lucky. I just played a snob card, thanking the stars that I'd landed in geek nirvana and my tastes just happened to line up perfectly with the correct criteria for good friends and boyfriends.

I was making tradeoffs, of course. None of my guys wooed me in any traditional way. I didn't dress up unless my parents were in town or I was going to the theater, so neither did they. But I didn't know I was missing anything. And even now I can only by hearsay and inference guess what I am missing, what I will always miss, by binding my life to geeky men.

Every action has an opportunity cost. If you are sleeping, you can't be writing, and if you are sleeping or writing the Great Customer Service Novel, you cannot be hyping your new one-woman show.

I iterated through guys, always turning to the next fellow and understanding why Mr. X-1 could never have been right for me, always fighting the last war. The Dave Barry fan, the libertarian, the Seinfeld fan, the role-playing gamer.

I upgraded each time, and finally got the first-class man I married this year. But all the paths that never were are everywhere. What Oakland men did I disregard? How many times did my single-minded zeal for male Hermiones make me a fool? And I remember specific days and times when they did, vividly, and those I can't write about — not to you.

In college one day, I unexpectedly saw a friend in front of Wheeler Hall. We started dating soon after. The ground slants there, and he is much taller than me. Was I looking up to him? If I had stood higher on the slope, would I have seen the dead end of our relationship in his eyes?

But I can't write to you about how it ended.

I have problems in my marriage. I have deep and inexplicable moments of joy. I have profound disorientations. I have the urge to drink. And I don't feel safe trying to describe those places in my life, or the irrevocable paths I took to get there, in my 750 words here once a week. Even if I could do them justice, who is reading this? And how carefully?

A few nights ago: My husband falls asleep reading next to me, and his left hand loosens. Ragged-trim pages escape in batches. The book in his lap is turning backwards in time, defying the imprint it's left on his consciousness, just as consciousness slips out of his grasp.

Finally, even the title pages go, and he's only holding the book open by its cover, as though the whole journey were virgin, fresh. The new, stiff pressure of the cover wakes him. He finds his place and starts reading, again.

Sumana Harihareswara writes for Bay Area

Living each week. You can write to her at