I’m generally a Word Guy. Sometimes I’m a Picture Guy. What I am almost never is a Math Guy. Numbers don’t like me. Or, my brain isn’t a fan of theirs, and they haven’t done much to endear themselves to me. Doing math is a lot like one of those horrible “hidden picture” 3-D art doohickeys that used to be so popular that stores in the mall and whole subplots in a Kevin Smith movie were dedicated to them. Everyone else sees the boat and wanders off; I’m stuck turning my head sideways for another several hours.
You’d think, though, that word problems would be helpful. I know words quite well. Okay, I know English words quite well, with a teeny-tiny subset of French and Latin words that haven’t expatriated themselves from my faulty memory.
“Look: we’re words! You love us!” calls the word problem. And like a dog that always falls for the “want a treat?” tomfoolery when you want to get him out from under the bed, I toddle on in with a dumb grin on my face. Words! Yay!
There’s a weak narrative, but it doesn’t look too long, so we’ll just keep going. But wait. See, all of a sudden trains and relatives and fruit aren’t any of those things. And then not only do I have to do math, I have to translate it out of language first. What the hell? I was all comfortable and reading and now what do you mean I have to solve you?
Hateful, traitorous word problems. Fie on you, I say. A hundred times fie.
Dammit, now I have to figure out what a hundred times fie equals.