Her comment was prompted by a sudden detour in the conversation -- someone had pulled a bunch of puzzle toys off a shelf and suddenly three of the mathematicians were absent-mindedly working on them, while various others commented. I must admit, it was kind of funny to look around the room and see all these intent male faces (not atypically for such a party, there were seven male mathematicians in the room, and two female non-mathematicians). It's easy to make fun of these guys on occasion (even when the guys are gals, as they occasionally are).
But y'know -- in most respects, it had been a perfectly normal academic dinner party up to that point. Yummy food, conversation about books and economics and teaching and department politics, some jokes, some laughter, lots of red wine. If the mathematicians occasionally slid into a highly-technical bit of math conversation, or got engrossed by silly puzzles, I was more likely to find it charming than not.
Maybe that's 'cause I'm a math groupie. Maybe it's because I'm plenty geeky myself (I appropriated one of the toys a few minutes after her comment, despite her valiant attempts to save me from myself). I don't really need to figure out why I find them adorable, though -- I just do.