Numbers are magical. Partner works with numbers for a living, and claims an intimate acquaintance with them. I myself have a kind of mystical respect for them. When I go to the health club, I always try to get a locker with a prime number on it. Why? Because. I automatically / reflexively check phone numbers and address numbers and years in my head, looking for magical correspondences. Partner and I realized early on that we were meant to be together, because his birthday is October 7, and mine is July 10. 10/7 and 7/10, see? Now add the ol’ seven-ten split from bowling, and the fact that Partner’s sister’s birthday is 11/7 . . .



It gets into everything.



For example: I was at the store the other night, trying to decide which chips to buy, and then I noticed Chester Cheetah leering out at me from a big bag of Puffcorn with the legend: $2 ONLY!



Well, it’s a big bag of Puffcorn, and – while I acknowledge that Puffcorn is mostly greasy air and orange coloring and salt – that’s a mighty good price.



They did not insult my intelligence by making it $1.99, you notice; they made it a nice round reasonable $2.00. And not $2.00, but $2 ONLY! I love the reversal of the words: not “only two dollars,” but “two dollars only!” It’s vaguely non-standard English – just enough to make you pay attention.



And it’s bright orange!



As is the Puffcorn.



I am captivated by this. It makes me wonder how my brain works, and why it’s affected by things like this. It tells me, most of all, that numbers are real; they’re at work in the world, and they interact with us in all kinds of ways.



Do I need to tell you that I bought the Puffcorn?



About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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