Wednesday, October 03, 2007

By the numbers

When I was learning to count, yet knowledgeable enough with arithmetic to no longer rely on fingers and toes, I pictured the largest number I could imagine: One Hundred. Nothing could be as immense as One Hundred, the King of the numerical empire. Counting to One Hundred was the pinnacle of accomplishment.

This column is our 100th get-together and, despite my increased counting skills, that number still carries significance. For two years, we have discussed health, diets, setbacks, and successes. (OK, actually I discussed it. But I always think of you when I write so that should count for something.)

To me, this is a milestone, a number with emotional significance. In achieving it, I realized how intricately, inextricably, woven into our lives are numbers.

My age? Number 52. Some get embarrassed about the number of years on the planet; I do not, as getting older beats its alternative. My wife and I have been married 6 years, together more than 12. These integers are a reflection of our commitment to each other. I have 2 sons. They live 700 miles away. I like the first number, not so much the second; I would prefer it to be lower. Nonetheless, numbers are what they are, unemotional reflections of the facts of our lives.

So, what's the deal with weight?

Before losing weight, there was no way I would not put "250" on my drivers license. Instead, I opted for a more ego-friendly number, 149, using the mentality of retailers who list prices ending in "9" to lull us into believing it's less costly. I don't fall for that tactic when I buy a sweater; I'm sure the DMV attendant didn't accept it when she saw my immense size. However, good public servant that she was, she let it pass. When my license arrived in the mailbox, sure enough, it showed me as an acceptable 149. Should occasion arise for me to weigh in somewhere - for example, the doctor's office - and the scale should say "250," I could snap out this legally binding document and have it corrected.

Funny how life works...

After losing my weight, and actually weighing 179, I renewed my license, eagerly listing - for the first time - the correct number of pounds. I proudly walked to the counter, handed in the application, gave her my old license, and waited while she did perused the poundage on my paperwork.

She analyzed my old license; studied my renewal, peered at me over the Ben Franklin spectacles perched on her nose, and stated, "179, huh? Last time, you only weighed 149. Might want to consider a diet."

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