Today, 3-14, is Pi Day. This may seem like a silly and pointless thing to you, but for me it is very significant. It represents a landmark moment in my life. I still remember the day in middle school when my math teacher introduced this Pi thing to us. All my fellow classmates seemed to nod comprehendingly. I, on the other hand, was instantly and utterly confused. I wanted to know the WHY and the WHEN and the HOW and, most importantly, the damn real world application for this nonsense. But there was no time for that. Five seconds later we had a test on it, which seemed to be a nearly ubiquitous teaching strategy: “Here’s a bunch of complicated information which I will explain quite poorly. Alright, got it? Now regurgitate everything I just said onto this 50 question exam. This test will account for half of your grade. Make sure you have a photographic memory or we will be sending you across campus to learn about “life sciences” with the kids who spend most of the day smoking crack in the downstairs bathroom.” I, of course, failed that test. And pretty much every math test after it.
So Pi represents the moment when I officially parted ways with math, and the two of us have never reconciled. It’s when I first and finally threw up my hands and said “Ok, I’m out. I’m done. I can add and I can multiply but you might as well be speaking in Aramaic for the rest of it. I will never absorb another mathematical concept again. If you need me, I’ll be in my element. Which is to say, I’ll be down the hall arguing with my history teacher about the Crusades. Good day.”
Some people are stupid in a lot of areas. But almost everyone is stupid in at least one. Math is my one. And I’m fine with that. Unless you’re Leonardo da Vinci or an ancient Greek philosopher, you’ve got your own dumb-zone. I feel like I’ve gotten by pretty well without math. I’ve been functioning as an independent adult for quite some time now and I’ve never found myself in a bind where I REALLY needed to bust out the calculus or serve up some Pi. Math teachers like to pretend we live in a world without calculators. But I always knew better. That was my biggest hangup. I’d read through the word problems on the test and I always thought, “you know, there’s another way around this”. If my friend Gary is coming to visit on one train and my buddy Alan is on another train, and they’re approaching from different distances and at different speeds, I don’t think I necessarily need to work out exactly what time they’ll both arrive. They’ve got my number. I’ll be at the bar across the street and they can call me when they get in.
Problem solved. Math avoided yet again. Beer involved. Win/Win/Win.