Friday, January 20, 2006

Commencing Countdown, Engines On

[This post was totally inspired and piggy-backed off Jurgen Nation's post of yesterday.]

I don't do math. When I was a kid, my life's goal was to be an astronaut. I wanted to be the next Sally Ride. What's so hard about being an astronaut? You suit up, climb into the rocket and off you go. You do a few orbits around the earth, maybe snap a few pictures for the friends back home, float around in zero gravity, make a pit stop on the moon, hang out for a bit, pocket a couple of moon rocks and then you're home in a week or two telling everyone about the awesome trip you just took. I just don't think jobs get more awesome than that, in my book.

I was just about failing math during my freshman year of high school, and my parents were called in for a conference.

"Nabbalicious, you're going to need math to get by in the real world," said that skank Mrs. Elliot. "Oh? Really? I doubt it."
"Uh-huh. What do you want to be? What kind of career are you looking at?"
"Astronaut." How I said this with a straight face, I will never know. I mean, I was fourteen. Time to get a little realistic about my capabilities.
"You need math for that."
My jaw dropped. I looked at my mom. "Is this true?"
She nodded her head. "Yes."
"And there's no way to be an astronaut and not need math? There has to be something."
"You need math."
"Fuck!" OK, that was in my head.
"Well, this is the first I've heard of that. Hmph!"

I suppose I was just thinking I'd show up at NASA one afternoon after graduation, asking for a job application. I'd fill out my name, my past experience ("Hostess at the Magic Pan restaurant from 1990-1991" -- cool under pressure!) and wow them with my charms in an interview. I'd be hired, go through a little astronaut training for a day or two ("Press this button to go warp speed; this here button slows you down if you get a little more warp than necessary; if you need to contact ground control, flip this switch."), be fitted for my spacesuit, get a nametag and to the stars I go.

Instead of clinging to my lifelong dream and buckling down at math, though, I said farewell and went back to pursuing my other goal of becoming a supermodel. They don't need math, dammit.

I'm still very insecure about math. Don't ask me what 70 divided by 3 is. Or even 2. I don't know. I like to think that I've very successfully proved Mrs. Elliot wrong. Turns out, I don't need math. I've gotten by quite well without it. The trick is to just get other people to do it for you. The things they don't teach you in high school.

The only person who doesn't really play along is the Mr. I guess I can't blame him. He's not much of a math person, either, but he is smarter than I am, so I think it's only fair that he do my math for me. If it were in me, I'd do the same for him.

Whenever we go out to eat and it's my turn to pay up, he just loves to psych me out.

The Mr.: So, what are you going to tip?
Me: Umm, what's 20%?
The Mr.: Eh. I don't know.
Me: Come on. What's good?
The Mr.: Whatever you think is fair.
Me: (Argh) OK. Um. Is $7 fair?
The Mr.: (grimacing) Hmmm...
Me: Um! $8? $9? Help! I don't know!
The Mr.: (shaking head sadly) Well...

Here, I begin to panic.

Me: I'm not cheap! I'm a good tipper!
The Mr.: I know!
Me: Help! I liked the service! I don't know what to tip! What's 20%?! I can't figure it out! I can't do the math! (commence pathetic whimpering)
The Mr.: Oh, $7.50 should be fair.
Me: (collapses)

Clearly, there are flaws in my little system.