Geek spotting

How to deal with the Tolkien-obsessed.

SOME OF US, you might have noticed, are just a little too giddy about this week's big Ring debut. Many fans have been in deep cover since the put-upon fantasy genre's heyday back in '82, when they could carry around the Monster Manual without a guaranteed ass-kicking—or HR referral. Now their symptoms have returned with a fever pitch. Here's how to cope with the disease:

Cubemate installs LOTR screen saver. Don't provoke him. Remember to call Gandalf's sword "Glamdring" (a.k.a the "foe hammer"), then check for potentially dangerous full-size replicas while colleague's at lunch.

Pal orders latte by stating, "Ai! Lauri렬antar lassi srinen!" Explain to barista that your friend is speaking Eldarin, the language of the elves. Pay and leave quietly.

Girlfriend spontaneously offers, "My God, Strider's one bad-ass studmuffin!" OK, guys, we can't all be Viggo Mortensen, but emphasize to her that you, too, are descended from noble blood (like a dentist).

Friend compulsively rereads Tolkien's entire single-volume doorstop. As with any gateway drug, the trilogy can lead to harder stuff—like The Silmarillion. Get the Betty Ford Clinic number, but don't dial yet.

Husband holds wedding band up to the bathroom light while chanting, "One . . . ring . . . to rule them all!" Role-playing can help enliven a marriage. If he wants to call you Galadriel during sex, go with it. (Glue-on elf ears are optional.)

Fianc饠hoards gaming paraphernalia. The 12-sided dice, arcane rule books, etc., mean you've got a full-fledged "gamer" on your hands. Evaluate on a case-by-case basis. Remember that it's not quite as bad as the similarly disconcerting revelations of, say, artificial limbs or syphilis.

Cousin insists on wearing cape of crushed velvet. A tough call. On the one hand, his behavior isn't much different from people who paint themselves up for Seahawks games; on the other hand, those people aren't exactly the funnest hang, either. But maybe he'll let you borrow Glamdring ($299 MSRP for the replica) if you get into a duel with that guy at work.

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