Tuesday, December 9, 2008

By the Numbers......

Has it occurred to anyone else how much of life seems to be related to a number? And kids ask why they have to learn math...

When we are born, we are assessed and given an Apgar score. Mine was a 9.5. That's a lie. I don't have any idea what my Apgar score was. I didn't think they even had them when I was born in 1961, so I looked it up and saw that Dr. Virginia Apgar developed the number in 1952. Sadly, I don't even know what Sweet Girl's Apgar score was. It was bad enough that she happened to be born without the services of a doctor, who was apparently hanging out in the doctors' lounge and hoping my labor went on for a while. Not only did I not have an epidural, I didn't even have an episiotomy. Nuff said. Apgar score was not high on my list of things to care about at the time of her birth. She was kept in an incubator away from the other babies because she had a "contaminated" birth. If it hadn't been for my baby daddy, she would have a contaminated birth on the floor, but he caught her.

Then we start school, and of course it's all about grades. We're ranked in our graduating class, everyone wants to know our SAT scores, then we get to college and it's all about the GPA. After college it's about the starting salary, how much your car cost, how many square feet your house has, even what zip code you live in. You're judged based on how many children you have (can't have zero, but can't have too many either) and how many marriages/relationships (ditto). Jewelry must have a certain number of carats of stone and gold.

We use numbers to refer to our computer's speed and memory size. (Did you guys notice that they are advertising computers and devices with a certain number of TETRABYTES now?) Number of jobs. Years worked. Anticipated social security benefit. Years to retirement.

Size of our clothes is important. Height (less for women, more for men). Weight (ditto, up to a point). By the way, when I went for my check-up the day after Thanksgiving, I refused to step on the scale. It was so liberating. But I did wear a bra. And make-up.

All this randomness is the result of receiving my credit score in the mail last week. We signed up for legal services, and one of the services they offered was identity theft protection. I figured it was a good thing to do, as much information as I tend to transmit over the internet. At one time I had some iffy things on my credit report, the result of having been married to a person whose philosophy about paying bills is that you shouldn't have to pay anyone who already has more money than you do. And unfortunately I'm still listed on his mortgage, the house that I pretty much paid for the six years I lived there, but it sat on property that had belonged to his grandparents, and it wasn't worth fighting for.

I was surprised how anxious I felt opening that envelope, as if my worth as a human being would be contained in the numbers inside. I found myself skipping past all the explanations, just wanting to get to the bottom line. (I was pleasantly surprised.) Even at my age, at this stage of my life, 1270 days to retirement, it's still all about the numbers.

1 comment:

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