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Marrying the Geek | A Meeting of a Different Kind by Linda MacDonald

I’m delighted to be welcoming Linda MacDonald to Jera’s Jamboree.

Marrying the Geek

I was watching University Challenge: two stacked rows of the bespectacled, the awkward, the clean-cut boyish and the slightly weird. First I thought, Geeks, and then I thought, Husband Material. Not for me, of course, but for the dozens of sweet young women wandering the corridors of our academic institutions; women who probably pass them by without a second glance. If only their peers knew what I know, it might save them a lot of pain.

When I was young, there seemed to be two types of boys: the edgy, dangerous ones and the industrious, sensible ones. The dangerous ones grew their hair long, went out with girls and elicited disapproval from parents. The sensible ones were polite and courteous and steered clear of the party scene, at most indulging in a beer at the pub and a game of darts. They might have been geeks – except in 1970s Cumbria, we didn’t use such a word.

I suspect my mother would have been very pleased if I had brought home a geek – so long as he was of the socialised variety and not permanently attached to whatever electronic fad was prevalent at that time. This is because mothers know that geeks are often more reliable and less inclined to lead their daughters astray.

I look back with the wisdom of age, remembering Jonathan and Nigel and Richard (not their real names), not exactly geeks, but semi-geeks. They were friends of a sort, but even though they may have hinted at romantic intent, they weren’t exciting enough or fanciable enough for me to be interested. Instead I pursued the other type and ended up with a broken heart.

In my novel A Meeting of a Different Kind, Edward’s daughter Harriet thinks much the same as I did when I was a teenager. She says to her family, ‘Geeks are so not cool.’ But her mum replies, ‘Your dad was a geek when I met him. A good-looking geek, but a geek nonetheless. Geeks are very marriageable.’

Husband Edward has hit midlife, and has women of a certain age falling at his feet because they know that although he may not have the sculpted face or the brooding eyes of a film star, he is much more likely to be honest, trustworthy and faithful.

So why might this be?

Now for the science bit …

Masculine-looking men with their square jaws or prominent brows, their sloping foreheads and their angular profiles, produce more testosterone, both before birth and at puberty. And it is the excess of this hormone which is thought to give them the persistent desire to chase women; to spread their seed far and wide. They are the Super Hunters of the masculine world; handsome guys who attract attention with their confident charm and their fool-proof dating strategies. Young women are captivated (and some older ones too). They fall in love and then suffer a rollercoaster ride of emotional angst because he’s a Player, treating them badly before moving on to the next one.

On the other hand, the less masculine-faced men, those with lower testosterone levels, are more likely to be monogamous and they become an attractive target for women who want to settle down and have a family. Consciously or sub-consciously women are drawn to them; even those who might once have been geeks.

It is Mr Darcy versus Mr Wickham; it’s Bridget Jones’s Mark Darcy versus Daniel Cleaver. How often do women have their hearts shattered by the love-rat, only to end up with Mr Faithful? But some women never learn. They repeat the pattern of destruction and wonder why they never meet someone to love them back.

Is there no hope when dating the Mr Wickham’s of the world? Of course there is. Some day even he may want to settle down. He may meet a woman he doesn’t want to lose; he may even fall in love. But even then, he is a riskier option. Romantic love is a fickle construct, thought to last only an average of twenty-two months. When the magic wanes in the marriage game of chance, the odds on stability are much more favourable with a geek.

Fascinating!  Thank you for sharing this with us Linda.


When archaeologist Edward Harvey’s wife Felicity inherits almost a million, she gives up her job, buys a restaurant and, as a devotee of Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall, starts turning their home into a small eco-farm. Edward is not happy, not least because she seems to be losing interest in him. Taryn is a borderline manic-depressive, a scheming minx, a seductress and user of men. Edward and Taryn don’t know each other but they both know Marianne. To Edward, Marianne is a former classmate who sends him crazy emails. She is Taryn’s best friend, and when Marianne meets Edward, she tells Taryn how wonderful he is and that he is not the philandering type. Taryn sees a challenge and concocts a devious plan to meet him during a series of lectures he is giving at the British Museum. When Edward and Taryn’s paths cross, questions of friendship, loyalty and betrayal are played out against a backdrop of mental fragility and the destabilising effects of a large inheritance…

Colour crop

Linda MacDonald was born and brought up in Cockermouth, on the edge of the Lake District in Cumbria, England. She was educated at the local grammar school and later at Goldsmiths’, University of London where she studied for a BA in psychology and then a PGCE in biology and science. She taught secondary science and biology in Croydon for eleven years before taking some time out to write, paint and make jewellery. In 1990 she was lured back into teaching at a sixth form college in south-east London where she taught health and social care and psychology. For over twenty-five years she was also a visiting tutor in the psychology department at Goldsmiths’.

At the end of 2009, Linda broke her wrist very badly through tripping over a classroom chair. Reminded of the fragility of life and how time was passing with her writing dreams still unfulfilled, she decided to publish her first novel independently. Meeting Lydia was inspired by finding an ex classmate on Friends Reunited. The novel explores the effects of school bullying on later life, and the pros and cons of internet relationships from the perspective of a woman going through a midlife crisis. It was published in September 2011. The stand-alone sequel, A Meeting of a Different Kind, had already been drafted before Linda broke her wrist and was published in November last year. It continues the story from the perspectives of two different characters, looking at issues of friendship, loyalty and betrayal. Both books may be read independently and are being very well-received by a wide ranging readership of men as well as women. The third part of the series, The Alone Alternative, is about taking a second chance of love in midlife. It is now going through the publication process and is expected to be released in June.

Health issues in 2011 prompted Linda to retire from teaching in order to concentrate on her writing career. She hopes that with this new focus she can bring her books to the notice of a larger audience.

Twitter @LindaMac1

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