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Numb3rs (not the TV show)

April 4, 2014

You might have guessed I’m not a numbers guy.  Forget being disnumeric, which is kind of like dyslexia for numbers, only not as cool–letters mostly stay still for me, but numbers, the second I take my eye off them and try to hold them in my mind, catch a groove and start dancing and whirling around (there might also be quantum physics thing at work, where numbers become uncertain.  They may exist, they may not, but you have to actually look at them for them to exist.  Take your eyes away and they become uncertain again.)

But let’s get back to the dancing and whirling numbers, because it explains a lot about why I hate math.  

I grew up before electricity found its way into everyone’s toys.  We played with Tonka trucks, and being boys, there was a good-guy truck and a bad-guy truck so we could crash them together.  We were surrounded by Barbie and Ken dolls (yuck!) and GI Joe (one guy, not a team) and Joe was cool because he beat up everybody (look out, Ken!).  I learned to read quickly and discovered books were always about good guys and bad guys, or people working out problems.  My life was numbers-free with the exception of Sesame Street’s The Count, who taught us our numbers by relating them to things.

So I got it.  Numbers have relationships.  And so they must have personalities which at least implied stories.  And there it was.  Numbers made sense to me:

1 is the neurotic and lonely kid.  Nobody likes 1.

2 is one of those popular smug and secure girls with blond hair and curls. She’s cute but is still pre-puberty, so she’s really just annoying.

3’s name is Doug.  He’s the round kid who wears glasses and horizontally striped shirts.  He’s an OK kid, but kinda weird.

4 is the school jock, but still grade school, so how strong is he really?

5 is older but one of those awkward girls.  She has a crush on 7 because all the girls crush on 7.  But she’s never going to get 7 because, really?  She’s the young Jan from the Brady Bunch.  Might be cute someday, but not yet. Not at all.

6 is the babe.  She’s got it all going on, looks, brains, other things.  All the numbers either love her or hate her.  2 and 5 want to be her. So of course she and 7 have a thing.

See? Even they fought over the number 6

7 owns a car.  He’s one of the cool guys that is so cool that no one secretly hates him.  He’s 6’s boyfriend, but let’s face it, he’s got a roaming eye.

8 is another jock, high school, and not too bright, but he’ll get a scholarship to college.

9 is the beatnik.  He’s the only one who thinks he’s cool, others laugh at him, but he’s too busy being anti-establishment to notice.  Or care.

10 is not the combination of one and zero, 10 is the adult.  Probably a teacher, but not a good one.  He knows too much and has lost the thrill of learning.

You’re probably wondering about 0, aren’t you?  0 is the invisible man.  Or woman.  You can’t see him, so who can be sure? 0 is a superhero. 

This is what my kindergarten and first grade teachers had to deal with.  Simple addition is not so simple when they defy relationships.  Addition was numbers having babies (subtraction was them dying).   Say the teacher asked, “What’s 1 + 6?  Bobby?”  and I’d say, “It’s never gonna happen.  6 get together with 1?  No way!  6 and 7, sure, but not 6 + 1.  That’s just silly.”

And the teacher would look at me with fear in her eyes.

I never got multiplication.  That took years.  Now I get it.  It’s Facebook.  No wonder I didn’t understand before.   Algebra?  Numbers dressing up as letters?  Pretty sure that’s sinful.  Numbers in drag.  Definitely sinful.

Explains a lot, doesn’t it?


2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 4, 2014 7:24 pm

    I’m so glad you finally nailed it! I never got Algebra and now I know why! It makes perfect sense.
    Rob, this post is brilliant. We should get a math credit for reading it. Love it!! In fact I’m still chuckling–you don’t know how much I’be needed something to make me laugh. 😊

  2. April 4, 2014 7:24 pm

    I’m so glad you finally nailed it! I never got Algebra and now I know why! It makes perfect sense.
    Rob, this post is brilliant. We should get a math credit for reading it. Love it! In fact I’m still chuckling–you don’t know how much I’ve needed something to make me laugh, so thank you friend! 😊

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