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Attaboy, 8

John W. Pinkerton


What numbers do best is play in their own backyard, mathematics.  They seem to be happy there and don’t seem to be longing for roles beyond their natural habitat.

However, being subject to the whims of mankind, they are often dragged out of their comfy homes to be used for other purposes.

Take “13” for instance.  I imagine “13” resents the roles it has been given.  Wow!  What a terrible moniker to hang on a fellow, “Unlucky 13”.  The
tag of “unlucky” was reinforced by the fact the Knights Templar were arrested on Friday the 13th and executed soon afterwards; there are several Biblical uses of “13,” none of which is positive, including Judas being the 13th person at the Last Supper; a witches coven is traditionally thought to have 13 members.  “13,” I imagine, has resigned itself to its fate. 

On the other hand, “1” must be thrilled with its roles.  Folks like to be associated with “1”: “We’re number one!” can be heard from dawn to dusk all across the land.  I’m sure that “1” snickers some times when folks make this claim.

Number “2” must really be hacked off.  It came so close to being number 1 but no cigar, and, besides, who wants to be associated with excrement.

“3” has embraced its roles in baseball: triple play, three bagger.  “3” even likes three outs.  Not only is “3” a great fan of baseball, it loves its role in three square meals; “3” is mentioned 467 times in the Bible and is considered one of the spiritually perfect numbers.  Way to go, “3”.

“4”…has anyone seen “4”?  No?  I guess he’s hanging out with number two.

Okay, “5” is a real showoff: five o’clock (quitting time), high five, low five, gimme five, take five.  Hush, “5”, we know you’ve been blessed.

“6” gets a little shortchanged.  In Latin it is written as “sex.”  Didn’t get many laughs even when Latin was a living language.

“7” is a whole other story: for you gamblers, there’s seven come eleven;  “7” is generally considered to be a lucky number---heck, Mickey Mantle wore number
7.  We have seven days in a week; seven continents, and seven brides for seven brothers.  The rainbow has seven colors; there are seven notes in the musical scale, and there are seven letters in Roman numerals.  Shakespeare even wrote of the seven ages of man.  Even ladybugs have chosen to have seven spots.  When Jesus was asked how many times we should forgive others: “70 times 7.”  We could continue this list of accolades for seven, but his head is big enough already.

“8”, I’m afraid, is behind the eight ball.  Although it symbolizes  harmony and balance and abundance and power, no one seems to care much.

Maybe “8” should hang around with “9” more often.  Uses for “9” include the whole nine yards, cat-o’-nine-tails, a cat has nine lives, to be on cloud nine, a stitch in time saves nine, and nine out of ten ain’t bad.

You would think that “10”, old double digit,  would
have numerous (pun intended) uses outside of mathematics, but there’s nothing to write home about.  “10” is often thought of as a perfect score.  I guess “wouldn’t touch someone with a ten-foot pole” qualifies.  Surfers hang ten.  Oh, well, “10” may be a big fellow on campus compared to his underlings, but it’s just not as popular as one might think.

Well, we’ve reviewed the top 10 numbers and old “lucky” “13”.  If I had to choose numbers to hang around with, I’d pick modest fellows like 2, 4, and 8.  They seem like good fellows and good companions, and, besides, that’s just the right number for a poker game.  There you go, “4,”  you got another mention.  Attaboy!