We geezers don’t get the respect we’re due. You know what I’m talking about. You see it even with your own children. You’re only 10 minutes into a story about suffering as a kid, and their eyes glaze over and they start acting like they have to go somewhere real quickly. We get no respect until we prove how superior we really are. We’re really groovy and far-out, as the hipsters say. Just the other day I was the bee’s-knees.
The clerk looked up from her smart phone. If she looked at me, I didn’t catch it. It was our first time in this thrift store, and there were some really good deals. I remembered the mantra of my mother, “Never pay retail”, so I decided to ask for a better price. “Will you take less for this coat?” I asked while I attempted to bat my baggy eyes.
The young woman was quick to respond. “I can give you 30% off.” She reached around and grabbed a calculator. I guess she didn’t want to use the calculator function on her phone because it could mess up her Snap-twit or whatever. She punched a few buttons and offered her best deal. “Its $7, so with 30% off you can pay $2.49.”
I had to educate her. “You’re wrong. 10% of $7 is 70¢ and multiply that by 3. The discount is $2.10, so my price is $4.90.”
She looked at me for the first time. She recomputed on the calculator and looked at me again. The blood left her shocked face. The clerk had the same horrified expression that the girls in the slasher movies have when they see the axe-wielding guy in the hockey mask. In horror she begged me, “How did you do that?”
How did I do that? I’m a magician, a male witch, a wizard. Every baby boomer and even the earlier generations practice the dark art of “Arithmetic.” I guess it could also be called “uncommon core math.” It’s a nefarious method using rote memorization and practice that enables us old time geezers to do things in our heads. We can do miraculous computations without Snap-o-gram or even paper.
Anyone of my generation can attest to the fact we had to learn math. The millennial method is a math myth. Get it, math myth? They certainly don’t learn it in the same way. I learned my times tables in 4th grade because my Grandma had to learn hers, and she wanted to punish me in some weird revenge plot. I was tortured until I could rattle off every multiplication table from one to Kalamazoo. The division problems or “goesintaz” came next. There was no rest and no pecan pie until I could solve every problem for my Grand-inquisitor.
I have to confess that I’m only an Arithmawizard 3rd class. I have friends and family that are like Rain-Man in a Blackjack tournament. My parents’ generation can total columns and columns of numbers in their brains. I’m pretty sure my aunt tabulates the national debt in the back of her mind while making delicious treats and knitting car covers. They all have mythical mathical skills. The kids at the local Burgerteria fall completely apart if they’ve already hit the “total” button and you give them a dime to round up your change to the nearest dollar. If you help them by explaining how to get the answer, they’re ready to call 911 and the nearest exorcist. Then after you make fun of them and they cry a bit, they get all defensive and play the age card. You know, they insult your old-man Velcro shoes and high-waisted pants. They project their inadequacies and mention my inability to park within the allotted lines. They point out my mangled tailgate has done more damage than Gallagher’s Sledge-o-Matic, as if I don’t already know that.
I just hope some of the geezers are still alive when a big solar flare or an Asian nuke smokes all of the calculators and phablets. No offense intended, but many of the youngsters will be shuffling around glassy eyed and grunting, hoping they have enough valuables to trade for a Mochalatte half-caff root beer and a flatbread hummus parfait. OK, a little offense is intended. They’ll be sorry. They’ll all be wearing Velcro shoes and backing into stuff so maybe we’ll be willing to figure out their discounts and burger payments. Geezers will finally get the Arithma-respect they’re due. Then we can all knit and have pie.