The male dancers’ bulging tights made us blush like a teenager the last time we attended the ballet! Bulging tights—and wallets—will be in ample evidence tonight at the American Ballet Theatre’s 68th Annual Spring Gala at the Metropolitan Opera House, featuring dinner and dancing (first by the professionals, and later, the dermatologically stiffened, pharmaceutically perked-up masses) and a showcase of luminaries such as first daughter and Obama supporter Caroline Kennedy; socialites Blaine Trump, Lauren Santo Domingo, and Anne Grauso; socialite-turned-fashion titan Tory Burch; NBC franchise Tina Fey; adorable Nina Ricci designer Olivier Theyskens—who looks like a medieval pirate—and, awesomely, Taylor Momsen from Gossip Girl! Later, Sebastian Junger’s gruesome “literary” Chelsea watering hole, the Half King, hosts the latest crush of literary trust-fund gals in fake glasses: Benjamin Nugent, author of American Nerd: The History of My People! Mindy Kaling from The Office will be introducing him tonight. We called up Mr. Nugent—who, we’re told, is actually not a nerd, but a cool dude knows a good angle for a book topic when he sees one. “The earliest nerds were the scientists of the early machine age,” he said. “The first nerd in literature was Victor Frankenstein. Around the same time, Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice. Mary Bennet is a real nerd.” In his research, Mr. Nugent sought out “high-school debate kids and medieval re-enactors and people who are into Dungeons & Dragons.” And his own credentials? “I was terrible at sports. I always got picked last for kickball. I was really into computers and these rule-bound activities that had nothing to do with intuition or physical confrontation, which are the things you need to have going for you if you want to be a popular kid in junior high.” Things worked out for Mr. Nugent, luckily: “When I turned 15, I started running as far away from my nerdy friends as I could. I was a traitorous social climber.” But it irks him that dorkdom has become cool in the intervening years. “It’s becoming this clichéd first-date line where you say to a woman, ‘Oh, I was such a nerd in high school,’ and it makes you look self-deprecating, even if you aren’t. The people who really were nerds don’t celebrate it as much.” Or write books about it—ouch!
[ABT Spring Gala, Metropolitan Opera House, Tent at Lincoln Center, 6:30 p.m., 212-873-4652; Benjamin Nugent at the Half King, 505 West 23rd Street, 7 p.m.]