(IMPORTANT: this is a picture of the author with a NON-curmudgeonly Sherlockian. The Sherlockian curmudgeon is not specific to age, to gender, or to particular Sherlockian society—please do not avoid Sherlockians who look like this one, unless you want to avoid witty conversations and warm hugs. Curmudgeonly Sherlockians, yea, by their works and only by their works shall ye know them. Amen.)
UPON IDENTIFYING THE CURMUDGEONLY SHERLOCKIAN: let us assume that, by virtue of your reading this, you are also a Sherlockian (as is the author: ASH, BSB, BSI). The curmudgeonly Sherlockian, that plumed rara avis so seldom to be found within our circles, would like to know just what your “qualifications” are for being accepted as a “real” Sherlockian, and they would particularly enjoy credentials and references if you are a female under the age of forty. Unfortunately for the curmudgeonly Sherlockian, the only credentials necessary for becoming a Sherlockian are liking Sherlock Holmes. Therefore, if you find yourself in an encounter with this exotic creature, a guide is useful for navigating potential pitfalls.
THOUGHT PATTERNS OF THE CURMUDGEONLY SHERLOCKIAN: this breed of Sherlockian ponders long, hard, and critically about whether or not you, the devotee of Sherlock Holmes, qualify as a “real” Sherlockian, or merely (we conclude via inductive reasoning) a “fake” Sherlockian, in a structure of thought not unlike the “fake geek girl” argument. It is a syndrome afflicting only a few members of our society, but the subject is one upon which the sufferers spend a great deal of analytical reasoning. They are to be cared for with the utmost sympathy and kindness in this regard, as you would treat any person with a mental ailment, as here is a short list of things they are unable to think about or discuss while instead debating whether or not you are a “real” Sherlockian:
—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
—the Sherlock Holmes mysteries
—whether Holmes went to Oxford or Cambridge
—that crazy hair Rathbone sported in the later films
—Jeremy Brett’s diction
—why Guy Ritchie hates trees
—whether they love or hate the BBC series
—stories featuring Sherlock Holmes
—where that pesky bullet wound was
—the Clive Merrison radio adaptations
—and Sherlock Holmes
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ENCOUNTER A CURMUDGEONLY SHERLOCKIAN: this is unlikely to happen, as they make rather a point of inviting only “important” Sherlockians to their gatherings, and by “important,” it is essential that the reader take this to mean “people they like.” But if you should manage to fool the curmudgeonly Sherlockian and see this chimerical marvel in person, or perhaps if you encounter some of their remarks on the internet, in publications, or via social media, it is important to exercise sympathy towards the dreariness of their plight without succumbing to an ableist mentality, which can be a fine line to draw.
You, a healthy individual who likes Sherlock Holmes, are able to enjoy being a Sherlockian via whatever means of creative expression you wish—be that expression essays, cosplay, fan art, meetups, pastiche, crafts, fellowship, or simply reading the stories or watching adaptations. The curmudgeonly Sherlockian, due to the dire and encompassing nature of their impairment, are only able to discuss whether other people ought to be having quite so much fun, and whether or not anything can be done to stop it. You will be tempted to patronize or pity these individuals, and will struggle against treating the joy-impaired differently; please be considerate and remember to act towards them as you would any other person, and not allow their regrettable condition to define them as human beings.
ASPECTS OF SHERLOCKIANA THE CURMUDGEONLY SHERLOCKIAN DEEPLY CARES ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT YOU ENJOY:
—the Sherlock Holmes canon, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: by all means, please read this when you care to, and marvel at how incredible the stories are, and revel in them for the rest of your lives if you have not already done so.
—Benedict Cumberbatch’s cheekbones: somehow you enjoying these is existentially threatening to particularly vulnerable curmudgeonly Sherlockians, the ones with nothing better to do than discuss girls’ tastes in TV stars, and thus the subject should be courteously avoided in their presence.
—the fact that adventure stories are in fact viscerally awesome: (do not discuss).
THE CANCER CURE: it is a little known fact that the reason curmudgeonly Sherlockians care so deeply about the purity of their gatherings is that they are literally curing cancer. If you were to feed all the letters from the Sherlock Holmes canon into a random number generator, on the 221st try, the letters chosen would spell out, “Wheresoever twelve purest of the pure Sherlockians gather to pretend a fictional character is real, because he is in fact real, and be they sound of mind and lifting of whiskey and ebullient of voice upon the subject of a genre fiction hero, lo, upon the 1,895th day of their meeting consecutively and raising their glasses upon high in tribute to a dude in a truly silly hat, a cure for cancer shall descend upon all former British colonies.”
That’s why they’re taking this so seriously. Thus, our respect for their diligence is called for, even if they have no idea what in god’s holy name they are talking about.