On Finding One’s Home: A Word of Affection for Sherlockians

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”

"He deliberately knocked the whole thing over." Sidney Paget's original illustrations for the Strand publication of "Reigate Squires," 1893.
“He deliberately knocked the whole thing over.” Sidney Paget’s original illustrations for the Strand publication of “Reigate Squires,” 1893.

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.

Never.

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”

"At the Gasfitter's Ball." Original Sidney Paget illustration for the Strand publication of "A Case of Identiy," 1891.
“At the Gasfitter’s Ball.” Original Sidney Paget illustration for the Strand publication of “A Case of Identiy,” 1891.

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.

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. Steve says:

    Yet another very interesting perspective by you. Thank you for broadening my mind.

  2. Dan says:

    Rebecca, there’s a lot of depth in you, young lady. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Joey says:

    Beautiful, thank you for your long distance warmth. I’m there!

  4. Jeff Henderson says:

    “The little things are infinitely the most important.” Have a great day.
    — A Case of Identity

  5. Julianne says:

    Truer words…hear, hear! Lovely to meet you at O’Lunney’s last night, & I look forward to seeing you again next year.

  6. Christian says:

    So I’m not the only one!!

  7. michaelwaller777 says:

    You’ve helped me define grace : affection liberally granted … generosity of spirit. That’s a wonderful thing isn’t it?

  8. Rudolf Zaras says:

    For me, one of those things is Francis Bacon, the greatest literary genius of all time. To all Baconians alike, we stand alone in knowing the true greatness of this man.

  9. nissim gozlan says:

    Rebecca !!! you are amazing !!! Thank you for sharing her knowledge and experience to us !!!

  10. Anastasia says:

    So well put. I’m working on my own write-up of the Weekend and struggling with my own post-BSI-weekend blues, and I find that the thing I miss the most is the friends. It’s become a tradition for me every evening, after the events, to gather at O’Lunney’s and find other Sherlockians, knowing with 100% certainty that every evening would turn out fun and joyous. I remember my first BSI weekend, I was utterly terrified and starry-eyed, but everyone was so welcoming (I don’t get tired of saying it) – and I look forward to coming back year after year, because as you’ve stated so perfectly, I know I will have people who welcome me. I, too, have always been one of those geeky, obsessive people who liked books others hadn’t heard of and read literary criticism for fun. That’s why I related to the BBC’s Sherlock so much – there was that really strong sense of not fitting in. But with Sherlockians, I fit in with all the other strange people.

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