Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Haunted by Arithmetic

Evidently the little arithmetic-in-my-head daemon is still running. I thought it crashed over twenty years ago. Maybe that's because the only time I'm called upon to do arithmetic in my head these days is at the end of a restaurant meal when I've had a few glasses of wine or beer, at which point I can't hold a number in a memory register so the ability to look at a number and immediately say "17% of that is ..." is something that I thought had long vanished.

What happened this morning was I was puttering about my apartment with CNN on the television, in the background. The newscaster was reporting on the death of comedian/comedy writer Louis Nye, so I turned towards the set. The screen behind the newscaster said "Louis Nye; 1922 - 2005". The newscaster ended the brief report with, "He was 92 years old."

Quick, before you've had time to do any conscious arithmetic, did you just feel as if you were hit across the face with a wet towel?

Here's the odd thing: The first conscious words that came to me while trying to realize why I felt so slapped were not, "They must have meant 1912" but, rather, "But my father isn't 85 years old!" You see, my father was born at the end of 1929. That background arithmetic daemon, wholly without my sending it any arguments, had subtracted 22 from 29 and then subtracted that result from the 92. Honestly, all of this was completely subconscious.

Today is National Coming Out Day. I am officially coming out as a nerd. (There, that wasn't so hard.)

I was also weirded out by the one factoid of the obituary: That Louis Nye is known for originating the famous catchphrase "Hi-ho Steverino". Ok, I know that this was specifically a Steve Allen reference from his Tonight Show days -- it's a little before my time but I have some cultural awareness of things that came before me (especially since the Steverino days coincided with my toddlerhood and I was called this on occasion) -- but for that to be touted as Louis Nye's cultural contribution seemed, well, maybe sad or maybe funny but certainly ridiculous as can be.

Hi-ho Steverino?

Ok, then. Hi-ho Steverino.
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