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My husband and I are in charge of cooking the turkey this year for Christmas. We brine it before we bake it, so I emailed the recipe to my mom so that she could buy the brine ingredients ahead of time.
When we arrived at my parents’ house yesterday they took us out to lunch, and in the car on the way home the talk turned to turkey.
“I got a 10-pound bag of ice. Is that enough?” asked my mom.
“Well let’s see. It’s a math problem,” responded my husband.
“Aaarrrggghhh!!!” I yelled, grabbing my head in agony.
“A pint’s a pound the word around,” began my husband.
“Yep, there went my frontal lobe,” I announced.
Eventually-and a long and painful eventually it was-they reached the point in their conversions that they’d been aiming for all along: how many ounces are in a gallon?
“I thought there were 16 ounces in a gallon,” said the accountant.
“No, there are 64 ounces in a gallon,” said the math teacher.
“No-oo,” there are 128 ounces in a gallon,” said the engineer.
“And there goes the temporal lobe. Damn math!”
Yesterday I tutored one of the eleventy-thousand high school students who have a Spanish exam coming up this week. After we had finished and I was walking him to the door he said, “Man, I can’t wait until next semester when I get to start fresh with a brand new 100 in Spanish!”
“Um, not to burst your bubble or anything,” (Liar, liar pants on fire! Anytime anyone says that, that is of course exactly what they want to do!) I said, “but that’s not actually true. You don’t start each semester with a 100, and then your teacher takes points away from you. You start each semester with a zero, and then everything you do earns points towards your grade.”
Imagine a baby, sitting in a field of golden sunshine, surrounded by tiny butterflies, happily playing with a ball while puppies and kittens look benevolently on. Then imagine that you stride up to that baby, smack that ball right out of its hands, and start yelling at it, for no reason. Imagine the expression on that baby’s face when, smack in the middle of all of that goodness, it discovers that such wretchedness and misery exists in this world.
That’s pretty much what this student’s face looked like after I’d finished breaking this news to him. So if you heard any cosmic shrieking yesterday, or sensed any rending in the fabric of the universe, don’t worry. It was only me, shattering the illusions of the young and the innocent.
And incidentally, this is exactly why I majored in words.
The other day my mom called to tell me that she met a guy at her office who graduated from Wake Forest the same year I did. She said she asked him some questions about himself to see if he and I had ever “crossed paths” while we were in school together, and when she told me that he was a math major I just laughed hysterically because I knew that the answer to that question was a resounding “no”.
Ever since I was 12 years old math has been the bane of my existence. And I’m not exactly sure why that is. All I know is that up until that point I did just fine in math, with no kind of math inferiority complex whatsoever. Then my family moved to another state, and somehow in that move I lost my ability to do math.
It’s just so weird. I mean, it’s not like the time I had to take 4 migraine pills in one 24-hour period and subsequently lost the ability to put on my own pajama pants without my husband’s assistance. In that situation I could clearly pinpoint the exact cause of that loss of ability. [Read more…] about I Can Think Of No Funny Titles For This Post About Math