What'd you get for No. 1?

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Please solve the following problem: xcy7=32+H/Y+12S=?

Couldn't solve it? Bet not! Looks made up? It is! Isn't what I just did the method that thousands of other mathematicians have done in their lives?

Here's my theory: They got bored one day and decided to create textbooks that would eat at the minds of helpless teens around the country.

Imaginary numbers? Negative infinity? These are terms I used as a 5-year-old while playing with toy rockets, for crying out loud. These aren't things we should be teaching our high school students!

Now I do realize that I was born with a math gene that won't allow me to surpass the knowledge of an 8-year-old. That has been somewhat of a burden to me, but I've lived with it for years. I've been able to squeak by with Bs in that class only because of smart friends. Recently, however, things have taken a huge plunge into a pool of uncertain darkness. My counselor signed me up for trigonometry this year even though I purposely kept my hand as far away from that class as I could while signing up for this year's courses. You can imagine my horror when I looked down at my schedule for the first time.

"Th-there must be a mistake ... y-you've got to fix this!"

"You'll have to talk to the counselor about it."

"Dear God, help me, woman!" I said, grabbing the secretary and shaking her by the collar of her shirt. (I didn't really do that, but that was my first instinct.)

The first three weeks of trigonometry went by, and I still didn't own a graphing calculator. I was determined to never spend a hundred bucks on something that would make me want to murder someone or go crazy. I'm giving away seven hours of my life, five days a week. What more do they want?

Understanding nothing but the fact that graphing calculators were the spawn of Satan, my grade took a bit of a decrease. Then, the atomic bomb of all grades hit me after the test. Yes, everyone. I was flunking trigonometry.

Flunking. FLUNK! Saying it brings a sour taste to my mouth.

"But I only thought idiots who didn't care made F's!" I thought to myself when I saw the grade report. I began to see my life flash before my eyes.

Thoughts raced around my mind.

"Who am I?"

"What have I done to myself?"

"I don't have money for lunch today."

I immediately went home and told my mom. There was no escaping it. I believe she tried to make me feel better but all she did was make me feel like there was no hope.

"You got my math genes, hon," she replied.

In other words, I was doomed. I felt like it too. It seemed no matter how much I studied, it was useless. As soon as the test hit my desk, a little elf named Harold would race up to me and steal all memory of what I'd studied in the past 24 hours. What was I to do?

Well, I'll tell you. I grabbed Harold by the neck and threatened to blow his house up with his wife, Georgette, inside. Soon afterward I made an 82 on my test. I wasn't flunking anymore! The world made sense once again.

So remember, my fellow failing-math buddies, it's never too late. Oh, and don't worry. Georgette escaped with minor injuries.

Sam DeReign is a senior at Oran High School. Contact him at sdereign@semissourian.com.

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