Social Numbers Game


Some things in life are painfully legal. The other day while I was having dinner with S and we were talking about something regarding X: it’s possible, I said, after some thought. But not probable, our friend interjected, and I didn’t know what to make of that.

It hasn’t been so long since I’ve heard those particular words, which often seem to people like the same thing and contributes to the (mostly true) observation that law people are just a bunch of lunatics who split hairs regarding definitions all the time.

Because we do, and strangely enough, are sometimes proud of it. Why else would “reasonable” and “rational” mean two different things, as my friend S helpfully pointed out (with an expression of pained disgust on his face)? Funny how life is a matter of little subtleties — painful, since life would be so much easier if everything were just an issue of what plus what equals what. Yet, the logic of mathematics is loopy in itself; yes, life may be an equation, but it’s still a pretty long one. In between plus, minus and equal one has to grapple with integrating people, differentiating issues, adding and subtracting loves and hates and things from your life. Sometimes our hearts are divided, and then the troubles in our head multiply. We cancel off people who appear lovely but strike you under the belt; people can’t be numerators and denominators at the same time — forget the useless numbers. The ones who appear again and again eventually earn their own place apart from everything else (in a bracket, maybe; a special place in your heart?) and find their meaning as common denominators in a long, dark, complicated equation.

And then there are the unknowns, the constants, the xs we all aim to find the answer to, the ones that are right here, the answer staring you in the face, the ones that take a lifetime to figure out. When you do, it’s the end: you can leap out of the bathtub now. Eureka, you can cry, because you’ve got the answer

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