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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
  • Numbers: even so, they’re odd

  • God forbid I should die and, if asked by God “What’s your favorite number, son?” not have a ready answer; God hates when He asks a serious question and people say, “...uh....”
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  • Do you have a favorite number? If so, why?
    When I was a kid, it was very important to me I not only have a favorite number, but that I know what it was at all times.
    God forbid I should die and, if asked by God “What’s your favorite number, son?” not have a ready answer. God hates when He asks a serious question and people say, “...uh....”
    (Or maybe He doesn’t — how would I know?)
    By “favorite number”, I don’t mean something like 45, or 3.18, or 6,577. I mean a favorite number — a single-digit counting thing between one and 10.
    (Perhaps you looked at that last paragraph and wondered, “Why did Dixon write out the word ‘one’ and follow it with the numerical sign ‘10’?”
    (Answer: it’s the official Associated Press stylebook style. In newspapers, one through nine are supposed to be spelled out, while all numbers higher than that are written numerically.
    (Readers couldn’t care less, but many proofreaders have hissy cows if a number is written — unwisely.
    (Apparently, if a journalist types the number 7, or writes out the number four hundred and eighty-two point nine, he goes to the seventh [or is it 7th] layer of Hell.)
    Anyway, when I was a kid, almost every number was my favorite at some point for a different reason. If I was between one and nine years old, I usually went with my age, obviously.
    When I was eight, I knew down to my toenails that eight year olds were the most morally and intellectually superior human beings on the planet.
    When I turned nine, that statement was no longer operative.
    Zero doesn’t count because between the ages of birth and one, I didn’t even know there were such things as numbers.
    I remember thinking seven had to be my favorite number at one point because seven was a lucky number. I didn’t know how or why it was lucky, or who decided it was lucky, but I was a kid, and someone said so, and I wanted good luck.
    Three always struck me as being a happy number. Three was the number most likely to take an afternoon off to wander barefoot down to the river for an afternoon of fishing.
    Nine is a very regal number. I always pictured it wearing a purple cape and gold crown.
    Five was severe. If a Marine drill sergeant was a number, it was five.
    Eight was sort of the forgotten number. How often do you ever see eight of anything sitting out? Hum of few bars of Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony. You can’t? My point exactly.
    Page 2 of 2 - Six is a sneaky number. It’s technically an even number, but it’s made of two threes. How can anything made of threes be an even number? It can’t — and yet, there it is....
    Four always makes me think of the color green, sort of a rich green like the color of the idealized Irish countryside. It did when I was a child, and it still does.
    One is the loneliest number. I know because Harry Nilsson wrote a song providing evidence.
    Two is sort of a smug number. It’s fat and happy and knows something you don’t.
    To this day, I still prefer even numbers to odd for some reason. I think it’s aesthetic; if you have an even number of objects (jellybeans, hand grenades, violins, whatever) you can make symmetrical piles of them.
    As for numbers being actually useful for stuff, that’s another topic.
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