In the midst of the post-festivity flush of BSI Weekend, I have some words of deep affection for my fellow Sherlockians.
If anyone has spent much time around me, you know that I am constantly thrilled by subjects or details that leave others looking askance. I try to take this as a challenge: how can I communicate my exuberance so that others understand why I feel this way? Maybe… even convert a few people to a love of the esoteric? Certain things bring me endless delight, and I want others to feel the same.
Sherlock Holmes is one of those things.
Yet, apparently, I’m not the most effective missionary. On the contrary, I often receive looks from friends and family that remind me of a favorite Holmes quote:
I am afraid, my dear Colonel, that you must regret the hour that you took in such a stormy petrel as I am.
–“The Reigate Squires”
In the midst of this peculiar and pedantic joy, sometimes there is a lurking undertone of loneliness. We’ve all been that person.
- The one who quotes a favorite movie and nobody picks up on it.
- The one who is rocked by news of the death of someone you don’t even know—perhaps a famous actor or musician, but nevertheless someone who changed your life—while those around you continue on with their day as if the entire world didn’t just shift on its axis.
- The one who thinks of a joke but doesn’t share it for fear no one will get it.
- The one attending a party where the only person you know is the person who invited you.
You feel like an outsider. And you feel all the lonelier because there’s so much happiness in your heart that you want to share.
I’m relatively new to the Sherlockian world, so while traveling for my job over the past few years, I’ve often faced the anxiety of knowing only one person at the party. A Sherlockian will invite me to an event in Boston, or New Jersey, or New York, and of course I’m thrilled to go. But I also feel that slight nibble of anxiety we all know too well: what if no one talks to me? I brainstorm ways I can hold my drink or my phone so that I look like I’m busy when in fact I just don’t have anyone to talk to.
And you know what? In the Sherlockian world, I’ve never actually needed to.
Within minutes of arriving at a Sherlockian event, someone who doesn’t know me from Eve will inevitably go out of their way to say hello, and soon we are comparing the virtues of our favorite Sherlock Holmes stories. At events like BSI Weekend, I’ve been greeted like an old friend by people who have known me for less than 24 hours.
Friendliness may seem a trifle in this world, so filled with injustices and outrages and far more important things to accomplish than arguing who really wrote “The Blanched Soldier.” But over the past few years I’ve come to see the strength in a smile, in warmth, in affection so liberally granted.
It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.
–“A Case of Identity”
I feel I can’t express my gratitude in proportion to what my Sherlockians all deserve. But Sherlockians are big on toasts, so I’d like to offer this virtual one:
To your generosity of spirit.
And to Holmes and Watson, who bring us together.