I recently mentioned that Jason, Radhika and I would have “Beta Dinners” every Thursday last summer. A few people wrote in to ask, “Why are you spending your time writing a lame blog?,” “What do you mean by ‘Beta?’,” and “Why are you inventing us for a lede-in for this entry?”

Let me answer the first question first, the third question second and the second question last.

I spend my time writing a lame blog because I like writing, and I’ll thank you not to refer to Raronauer’ed as lame.

I invented people who wrote in with questions because nobody did write in to ask what Beta meant, but it’s nice to pretend that someone would be curious.

What exactly is a Beta? The term originated in the bathroom of IFC Cinemas, where Jason, Radhika and I had gone to relieve ourselves and to see Me and You and Everyone We Know. Radhika and I went to the women’s room together, but Jason had to go to the men’s bathroom alone. I realized that Radhika and I were also somehow excluded from the group: she was the only non-Jew and I was the only one who didn’t graduate New Rochelle High School in ’02. Although we shared our own small clique, there was no commonality to our group. We were all Betas, and from that came the sophomoric idea to name our group the Betas.

Being a Beta is about more than not having two X-chromosomes, not being among the chosen people and not being born in 1984. It just happens that Jason, Radhika and I all lack those things respectively. But what we share is a sense of Beta-ness.

Beta isn’t necessarily the opposite of Alpha. A true Beta isn’t a follower or leader: a Beta is an outsider-insider. In our clique, for example, while each of us belongs, we are all somehow excluded. Being a Beta, at least to me, means fitting in but not really. This definition might feel like a Prozac commercial: Who hasn’t been down lately or felt isolated from the group? I’m sorry I can’t give a better definition. But I am, after all, only a Beta.