Spontaneous Blog Rant!
…which, by coincidence, happens to relate to the Kingdom Come stories.
I’m watching Geek Love on TLC HD. This absolutely fascinates me… this episode (the first I’ve ever watched, is this a series? Really?) has a bunch of geeks at Comic Con doing speed dating. This means they all enter a conference room with pairs of chairs, and in a very organized manner, they have just a few short minutes to talk with each person before the moderator has them rotate to spend a few short minutes with the next person.
I love this idea. I wish they’d had this when I was single! It makes sense to have a bunch of people who already have at least some thing in common (like, wanting to find a date) get to meet and, hopefully, get matched up.
Unless you’re a superbly charismatic, gorgeous specimen of humanity, you’ve probably experienced rejection sometime in your romantic life. Or if not rejection, then the complete hopelessness of someone who thinks that there is no one out there who will ever love them for who they are.
There’s a scene in A Beautiful Mind (Bear with me… this isn’t a sidetrack, really…) where John Nash is comparing economic theory to dating. Basically, he suggests that everyone would be better off if, instead of all the guys hitting on the pretty blonde girl, all the guys spread out and paid an equal amount of attention to all the girls.
This makes sense. Many people in multiple generations have been in the situation where all the people were looking at the beautiful, charismatic few. If they’d just look at each other instead, they might be pleasantly surprised to find someone with whom they could be really happy.
So why doesn’t this happen? Why don’t people spontaneously give up on the popular choices and just look sideways, instead of up?
I saw a documentary about this once. They had ten men and ten women go into a room and attempt, using only body language, to make the most favorable connection. Sure enough, the man and woman ranked “most attractive” quickly found each other and paired off. The rest of them followed suit, and the result was that they really were matched almost perfectly to their similarly ranked counterpart.
Generation after generation, adolescents and young adults (and not-so-young adults) go through the same thing. They experience loneliness and rejection because they’ve set their sights on someone with no mutual attraction. Men and women alike bemoan these years saying “Well, no one wanted to date me.”
Maybe someone did. Or at least, if there had been some nudge, some hint that perhaps the possibility existed, something wonderful could have happened. Or, if not something profound and lasting, at least a nice, normal, if short-lived relationship instead of wallowing in self-pity.
I once heard a Junior High School teacher muse that, at that age, kids should be allowed to take a break from their regular academics and concentrate on social interaction for a while. (The theory being that their hormones were raging so violently that it was no use trying to teach them algebra.) This idea percolated in my head for years, and I decided to write it into my stories. It’s one of those aspects I have worked out in detail, although it won’t necessarily get described in the books; it simply exists.
The Kingdom Come year is about 25% longer than an Earth year. Their academic schedules match the four seasons; winter quarter, spring quarter, summer quarter, and autumn quarter. It is common (mandatory in some duchies) that kids take at least one, if not several sabbatical quarters off of school in order to pursue some interest. But the main goal of these sabbaticals is to give the kids a chance to concentrate on the social interaction, and any program that is certified to run sabbaticals must have some kind of process that gives kids the nudge to look, not at the head cheerleader or quarterback, but at each other.
I love this idea. For those kids who are ahead academically, they can take an extra sabbatical or two instead of trying to graduate early and hurry into adulthood. For kids who are lagging behind, a sabbatical might offer specialized tutoring in a specific area, but outside the walls of the school. Kids might stay in their own communities, or go to a camp or even further abroad, depending on their tastes. They might find a program with very small groups, or enroll in a program with a large number of students from all over.
But most importantly, they would be nudged. While having fun doing some activity that interests them, they can make those connections and learn what it means to be in a relationship beyond friendship.
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