March is Women’s History Month, a time to respect and appreciate women of all types and the contributions women have made and continue to make.

Nerdine was a pretty young woman, and…she was a very bright woman. Nerdine believed in studying hard and taking on academic challenges. 

In spite of her looks, she had almost no dates during high school. Guys just didn’t seem to like the fact that someone as good-looking as Nerdine was so smart. They seemed intimidated by her. 

But it wasn’t just males that had a problem with Nerdine. Female classmates shied away from Nerdine; they felt she was too perfect a package and unfair competition. They disliked her. 

Nerdine was somewhat bothered by her lack of popularity, but as my mom would have told her: “Some people not liking you is a compliment.”

In Nerdine’s senior year, two male classmates started giving Nerdine a lot of attention. They sat with her during lunch; they walked her to class; they walked her home after school. Nerdine was elated.  She fell for one of them, and they starting dating. 

But shortly thereafter when they were hugging good night, Nerdine’s date told her how he and the other guy had made a bet to see which one of them could get Nerdine. 


Nerdine was stunned and hurt. She pushed her date away. Her date immediately knew that he had said the wrong thing and tried to make amends by telling Nerdine that he had really fallen in love with her even though dating her had started out as a bet. 

Nerdine was not impressed or forgiving.  She told him goodnight and that they would not date anymore. Her date was devastated because in fact he cared a lot for Nerdine. He telephoned her daily and apologized; he walked with her to classes and apologized; he waited for her after school and apologized; he wrote her letters of apology and declared his love for her.  Nothing he did made Nerdine forgive him for pursuing her because of a bet. 

So…how did this story end? 

Nerdine’s would-be-lover joined the armed forces after graduation and met a woman that he married after receiving a letter from Nerdine congratulating him on his new love. Nerdine went on to college and eventually met someone she married who treasured her and didn’t fear her brilliance.

It’s 2014, folks, and sadly, people continue to expect “the incredibly insulting theory that women can either be attractive or intelligent.” (Daily Northwestern, February 19, 2014: Mollie Cahillane, The current 5 shows that should have ended sooner- 2. “The Big Bang Theory”) 

A recent news item that focused on the fact that young girls shy away from being called leaders because they fear being disliked and/or bullied is a sad commentary on our society. 

Females should be encouraged to “step up to the plate” and defy those notions and practices that incapacitate them. 

I hope you agree. 

Nerdine – a fictionalized name that combines “nerd” and the suffix –ine, a suffix meaning “of or pertaining to.”

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...