In search of story


August 1.22: Coping, but barely

Did you ever not say something you should have said? Good. Then you will understand the following.

I cannot do math in my head. Dad had his master’s degree in mathematics and, I suspect, wondered if I’d been switched at birth and where his real daughter was. My math persecution complex began early in life.

Some years ago, I was checking out of a hardware store apparently on the heels of someone who couldn’t do math in his head, and the cashier huffed to me about that inferior being. This is what I thought but didn’t say: “I can’t do math in my head either! But I can play Bach’s Little Fugue in G minor like nobody’s business, with both hands cavorting over three manuals, and my feet flying over the foot pedals, and having a grand old time doing it — and not once has it occurred to me to get all huffy about those who can’t!”

Mind you, dear reader, if I tried to play the Bach today, I’d fall off the bench and break several bones, but that doesn’t change the fact that I could once. It was exhilarating, and I’ve never met a single number, in or out of my head, that came close to being such fun.

(This harrumph was the result of reading Dan Antion’s blog post about the way retailers try to rope us into buying, with the inarguable position that math-in-the-head is our best defense against their wiles. In no way was his post huffy, but it reminded me of my to-now unsaid say. Yes, thank you, I feel better.)