Unreal helps Schlafly save A-B and ponders our nerdiness, but then comes down with a splitting headache

So InBev wants to suck up Anheuser-Busch. So St. Louis might lose a gajillion dollars and fall off the face of the Midwest if the cheapskate Belgian brewpire succeeds with its dastardly plot. And so we'd maybe finally get some decent draft selections at all of our shitty free outdoor music festivals. Enough of the doomsday already! Haven't you people talked to Dan Kopman and Tom Schlafly?

Unreal has.

And the news is promising.

We had Kopman on the blower last week when he happened to let slip that the microbrewery he co-owns with Tom Schlafly is working on an offer to purchase InBev. "So far I've got a dollar," said Kopman. "Only $45.9999 billion to go."

He added, "Tom's got all the details."

Unreal: So, you're going to buy InBev?

Tom Schlafly: Oh, yeah. Thirteen years ago we took up a collection at the bar in order to buy the Cardinals. We had a pseudo-United Way chart stating "amount raised" and "amount needed." I think we got like $83.50 towards $85 million. We ended up matching the funds and making a gift to the 100 Neediest Cases. This time we're thinking that if the Belgians are going to take over A-B, we'll just take over InBev.

How much have you personally put toward the endeavor?

I'll at least double Dan's dollar.

I heard that the real plan was to buy InBev, donate it to the city of St. Louis and have the Board of Aldermen run it.

[Bursts out laughing] I, well, you know, I'm not sure the city is allowed to own corporate stock. Darn. But I guess if we offered them a $50 billion company — OK, I will say that we're going to keep our options open.

Would you change the InBev rule about executives flying in economy class? That seems so last century.

I always fly in economy class. Though they might have corporate jets.

Free-flowing Schlafly on a corporate jet — that would rock!

It would certainly increase our carbon footprint, wouldn't it? One thing we'd do is make the Brazilians and the Belgians move here. They'd all have to start paying the city earnings tax.

Would you hyphenate, or would you rebrand everything Schlafly?

I think for the time being we'd leave their brands in place. I just thought of something that could be a problem: People would ask them where they went to high school, and nobody will have heard of their response.

Nah. After a few beers nobody cares anyway.

Oh, sure. True. 

Unreal could barely contain our excitement when we received a copy of American Nerd: The Story of My People, a new book by Benjamin Nugent. What a juicy subject! A book about — dare we say? — we!

Except it's not. Nugent is not even a real nerd! Nugent gave up the Dungeons & Dragons lifestyle at the tender age of fourteen in order to become a hipster. Hipsters appropriate the accoutrements of nerdliness, like clunky spectacles, nubby cardigan sweaters and high-water pants, but they do it ironically, to show that, unlike authentic nerds, they understand the basic tenets of society but choose to reject them.

Now he's a writer for n+1, the literary journal whose editors consider it part of the American intellectual discussion that has been ongoing since the days of Ralph Waldo Emerson. They're not nerds, though, because they throw parties.

Nugent equates nerdliness with social awkwardness, which finds its epitome in Asperger's syndrome. Nerds, he claims, find comfort in adhering to clearly established rules and lack a certain, shall we say, emotional flexibility. "They tend to remind people of machines," he writes.

He pays visits to the bastions of nerd-dom: a high-school debating team, a houseful of polyamorous adults who have based their love lives around the principles of Ayn Rand and, of course, the Society for Creative Anachronism, the members of which like to dress up as knights and joust.

Unreal has never participated in any of these activities, so we wondered: Does that absolve us from nerdiness?

According to Nugent, referring to oneself as a "nerd" is a hipster conversation starter that, paradoxically, is meant to make the speaker sound more, rather than less, cool. Hipsters are "nerds" about their love of the relatively obscure Hawaiian slide guitar. Hipsters love the Hawaiian slide guitar because it is obscure, not because of an all-consuming nerdly obsession.

Unreal's head hurts a bit after trying to plow through Nugent's treatise. Are we are or aren't we a real nerd? We thought our Mensa membership and Jeopardy! tryout would have credentialed us out the wazoo, but now we're not so sure. Is nerditude an inability to belong to a cool group? Or is it a choice not to belong? Or is it unquestioned membership in an uncool group?

After serious meditation on the matter, we conclude that the only true arbiter of nerdity is a sixth-grader. Excuse us while we go track one down. 

Hurts No Good
As if the opening of Sex and the City weren't enough to induce head trauma, Wednesday, June 4, was National Menstrual Migraine Awareness Day. East Coast news stations reported that the Chicago-based National Headache Foundation, along with Endo Pharmaceuticals, celebrated with a function at an LPGA golf tournament.

Next Page »