My friends are obsessed with “Doctor Who.”
I don’t know why or how or when it happened, but at some point during the last couple of years, this strange science fiction show converted several of my close friends to its die-hard fandom. I wouldn’t mind or really take much notice at all were it not for the fact that, apparently, a fundamental characteristic of a true “Doctor Who” fan is the compulsion to never shut up about it. (I say this, of course, with the utmost respect and affection for my “Whovian” friends. Love you guys.)
The first time I ever heard of the show, it was part of a riveting conversation among acquaintances regarding a topic of paramount importance — celebrity crushes. One guy took center stage, boisterously professing his love for David Tennant (the star Doctor himself) with a passion whose magnitude could be matched only by that of the incomprehension behind the blank stare he received from me in turn.
“Who?” I asked, sadly unaware of the awful pun I was making.
“You don’t know who David Tennant is?!” he sputtered with the few cubic centimeters of air left in his overworked lungs.
“David who?” I repeated with an edge of concern for his physical health. Came his incredulous reply, “Tennant! David Tennant! As in, the tennants of religion!”
Needless to say, after this introduction, “Doctor Who” and I did not get off on the right foot.
In his exasperated frenzy, this poor soul had confused two very different words: tenet and tenant. What he was attempting to reference were the tenets of a religion: its belief system, doctrine or principles. But what he accidentally actually conveyed to me was that somewhere, some religion was renting out its spare bedrooms to people — for how else could it have tenants?
I can forgive this boy his mistake, however, for three reasons. The first is that the only consequence of my misunderstanding and confusion was that, upon my arrival at home, I had to withstand the silent judgment of the Google “Did you mean…” for my inability to correctly ask the search engine to find pictures of this mysterious actor. The second is that I acknowledge that the sheer ardor with which this kid loved David Tennant may just have been enough to render him nearly incapable of coherent thought.
The third reason, however, has always been the most comforting to me, if the least plausible. When I think about (and subsequently balk at) the unbelievable atrocity of confusing two words with such disparate meanings, what most calms me is the idea that perhaps he was not attempting to clarify a last name but, rather, was referencing the “Doctor Who” following as a belief system itself. Perhaps this fandom has come so far as to have self-established as a legitimate religion that enjoys replacing traditional language with terrible Doctor Who-specific puns, thereby explaining the substitution of “Tennant” for “tenet.” Yes, I tell myself in a soothing voice while refusing to acknowledge that I am making absolutely no sense at all — this must be the case.
I know that I may have offended some people here with my wild exaggerations and Whovian blasphemy, but I’d be lying if I said I was sorry. I recognize that it’s possible that from here on out I should be glancing backward, checking for murderous fans behind corners desiring retribution for my heresy, but I don’t really mind — after all, as my friends often tell me, it is always a good idea to be on the lookout for extra shadows anyway.