Numbers Hooking up with Letters

Numbers Hooking up with Letters July 10, 2012

I still have my Carly Simon and Carole King records.

You know.

The ones that require a turntable and needle to work.

Most of the things of my youth were left behind when I moved West in 1974. But not these women. I brought them with me. It felt wrong to abandon them after all they had sang over me, and sang me over.

When my daughter Ashley got her first record player, a Fischer-Price model from Toys-R-Us, I loaned her my Carole and Carly albums. We cranked up the music and sang at the top of our lungs to “You’re So Vain” and “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman.”

When the needle on her turntable broke, Ashley spent years trying to find another one. She thought she had found it, too, only the one she ordered never worked.

The recent news of the Higg’s Boson got me to thinking about my daughter’s highly-prized turntable.

I’d asked Tim to explain to me what the big deal over the Higg’s Boson was. I’d read the reports. Listened to the all the Bill Nye the Science Guy wannabes try and put it into common English and yet, I still didn’t get it.

Tim is usually pretty good at explaining stuff. Guess that’s why he’s a teacher, heh?

“So, this one guy said that the Higg’s Boson is the fire that lit the fuse that started the Big Bang explosion, is that right?” I asked.

“No,” Tim said assuredly.

Remember I’m the girl who didn’t understand why Mr. Barfield announced in Algebra that 2+y=6.

I thought he might have been hiding under his desk during lunch taking shots of tequila. What in the world did letters have to do with numbers?

For the first ten years of school, numbers belonged in Math and letters belonged in English and now all of sudden, here comes cute Mr.Barfield putting letters on the board and multiplying them with numbers.

It was like watching the letters of the alphabet do a pole dance in an effort to tempt the numerals into mating with them.

It was just wrong.

So wrong.

How come nobody ever preaches sermons on the wrongness of letters hooking up with numbers? That’s a sermon begging for preaching.

I wasn’t rude but I did point out to Mr. Barfield in a very gentle way that I had no idea what the devil he was talking about because in an orderly world numbers and letters have no business mating with one another.

Mr. Barfield just stood there in front of that Algebra class, his head dropped to his chest, shaking his head back and forth.

In much the same fashion Tim did when he tried to explain the importance of the Higg’s Boson to me.

I’m not sure I have it right yet, but I think what Tim said was something about the importance  of the Higg’s Boson is that it can tell us how things work.

By things, I mean like protons and neutrons. The Higg’s Boson is the matter from which all other matter matters.

“Well, just because you figure out how all of Creation works doesn’t really matter,” I protested. “Because you know I could have taken Ashley’s old record player apart and figured out how it worked but knowing how a turntable works does not put the soul into a song, now does it?”

Tim laughed.

“I’m serious. Just because we can take the universe apart and break it down to it’s very sub-particles, so what? Knowing how music comes out of a record player does not make you a singer, and it doesn’t give a song meaning. You need soul to do that.”

Seems to me that Sam & Dave got it right years ago:


I think we ought to worry less about the whys and hows of Creation and focus more on giving meaning to the lives we are leading.

But then, again, I’m a Natural Woman married to A Soul Man. And I am still trying to figure out why they call it Algae-bra.


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  • You got me to thinking! I enjoyed the cuteness of this piece, remembering algebra class from high school, 46 years later. I kept my textbook from 10th grade and have vowed that one day I’m going to open it, begin at the first page, and work through all those problems. Coming to the right solution by using the right formula, if only I could apply it in everyday life.

  • Gloria

    This made me laugh outloud. I too never understood why the heck there were letters mixed with numbers! In fact my more scientifically inclined children were just teasing me about this the other day. One of them said “Hey mom, you should go back to college and get your degree in elementary education”. When I asked why I was told “because even you could pass the math class they require for that degree”!!!!!!!!! Obviously I don’t think that was meant as a compliment but rather a commentary on how sorry my math skills are 🙂

  • TheOriginalZippy :)

    I love it when your letters blend with music. Leave those numbers to their own devices.

  • Sharon O

    We used to have a turn table ‘player’ I even have a box of old vinyl albums. Our son has one now that he is soon to be getting rid of, it is a console ‘radio and player’. Those good old days are long gone I think.

  • Jcrabe56

    I just watches Apollo 13 again Sunday afternoon. I was looking out of the window with Tom Hanks down to Earth and the vast world known as space!! I thought to myself, how could anyone believe that all of this could have been formed by anyone but an amazing GOD!! It’s just way too much for my little brain to understand that it could happen any other way, I don’t waste any of the brain cells I have left even thinking about it!!