“Want to hear a realization?” I said.
Marty and I were driving to New Haven from Philadelphia and the traffic had come to a dead stop on I-95. She was trying to read a thick Power Point presentation in the front seat.
“I have had an insight.”
“Jay. Not again. I thought you were giving up insights.”
“I am serious.”
“Ok ok. What is it?” Marty asked.
“Boys are fractions.”
“Seriously. They are fractions from the time they are 8 until they get to be 18 or so. Depends on the kid, but they are all fractions. Some are ¾’s, others ½, some are 7/8ths. All fractions, though.”
“Where are you going with this?”
“So when there is a task that needs doing, a boy brings his fraction to the task and either the fraction is a large enough fraction to get the task accomplished or it isn’t.”
“Powerful insight. Riveting.”
‘Stay with me.”
“I am a bit of a captive audience.”
“Just carry on.”
“So when two boys get together they are now two fractions.”
“Well Lord have mercy!”
“Could you stop?
“Just keep moving.”
“I would go a lot faster if you weren’t already japing at my theory.”
“Japing? Is that what I am doing?”
“You are japing at my hypothesis.”
“So that is it is now, a hypothesis. I had it more as….”
“Quiet, or you’ll miss the insight…”
“… a rambling.”
“So when two boys get together and they have a task to confront you’d imagine that what I would say is…”
“I actually can’t imagine what you are going to say…”
“…that you’d take each of their factions and add them together and then the combination would either be bigger than the task or not. That’s what you thought I would say, but that would be wrong.”
“On so many levels.”
“That would be how it would be if it was two girls, assuming girls were fractions at all.”
“But you are going to say that with boys, its not.”
“Correcto. Muy bien, Muchacha. It is multiplication. That’s the mathematics of it.
“Cause when you add things you get more, but with boys you get less.”
“And I am sure you are going to explain that…”
“So it’s just like if you are multiplying fractions, you always get less than you start with. Like a ½ times a ¼ is an 1/8th. It’s always less. And what’s so beautiful about the math is that it works with any number of boys. It just keeps getting less as you get more of them. You take a ½ and a ¼ and then a third boy shows up and he could be a ¾’s on his own, but when you multiply him into a full three boy equation, you no longer even have an 1/8th – you have got yourself ¾’s of an 1/8th which is … which is … less than an 1/8th.”
“You are clearly a math whiz as well as a modern day philosopher.”
“Thank you, my dear.”
“I like how you can take a modest insight and turn it into, well, a really small insight.”
“Jealousy doesn’t become you, my dear. I believe I nailed that one.”
“I will erect a statue.”
“That would be fine. Just don’t get boys to build it.”
– Jay Duret