Monday, March 22, 2010

I've Got Your Number (My 100th Post!)

Some people think that the world is divided into two types of people: number people and word people. Personally, I think that the world is divided into two types of people: those who divide the world into two types of people and those who don't. But that's not important right now.

Anyhoo, back to our number people/word people situation. My problem is this. I may be both.

I wouldn't be a blogger and a writer if I didn't view myself as a word person. At the same time, I do tend to fixate on numbers. Phone numbers. Addresses. Birthdays, anniversaries, license plates, former license plates, former phone numbers, former addresses. Go ahead, ask me where my son lived the semester he spent in Washington, D.C. (8 1/2 years ago-- no problem.)

Seriously, what was my license plate number when I had the Chrysler LeBaron? I've got that covered. Heck, I can tell you the license plate of the car my neighbor drove when we carpooled our kids to preschool a zillion years ago. Why? I have no idea. I mean, I know why I learned her plate number at the time. It occurred to me, like a crazy young mother, that in case of an accident, I should know what make and model of car my child was riding off in, and that knowing the license number was an extra added bit of potentially helpful knowledge. How could it hurt? The problem is, SFS020 hasn't been relevant for twenty-five years, so why won't it go away?

A good ten years ago my step-daughter realized she could aske me the address or phone number of anyone in the family, and I could tell her, without looking it up. She dubbed me Rainman. It's a worry.

I grew up with a phone number that ended in -1789, so I always thought of it as (shall we say) 555-French Revolution. My friend Beth's number ends in the iconic -1984, and she tells people to call "555-George Orwell".

In 1992, when I changed jobs my best friend lamented, "I'll never learn your new phone number!" (She freely admitted to being my polar opposite on this little task.) I assured her that whatever it turned out to be, we'd come up with a gimmick to make it memorable. Fortunately it turned out to be easy. The prefix was just one number away from my home prefix. (So say, 555- became 655-.) And the final four numbers were -6794. I had only to tell her, it's the year we graduated high school, followed by the year our kids will graduate high school. That she could handle.

When I'm reading a book, I am compelled to calculate my percentage of completion when I put it on the nightstand and turn out the light. I like knowing I've read 82% of the book, for example. I know. It doesn't sound healthy.

My husband, the Center of the Universe (CoTU) thinks it is particularly worrisome that I have committed more than one credit card, complete with expiration dates and three-digit security codes, to memory. But it comes in handy when making hotel reservations by phone or online, not to mention shopping online. Is that so wrong?

Not long ago, CoTU and I stopped at Chipotle for a quick lunch. We had a two-for-one coupon, and the youthful cashier piped up "$10.66!" at the register. In unison, CoTU and I answered with a Visa card and "The Battle of Hastings!"

"Huh?" she wittily replied, being of a generation who has apparently not been required to memorize such trivial dates. "Nothing important," I said, letting her off the hook. Why should she feel responsible for the Norman conquest of England? After all, it was a long time ago, and what's Norman ever done for her? Maybe they don't even teach that stuff any more. I couldn't say.

I get to keep my so-called skills sharp by the fact that it seems that one or another of our kids always seems to be moving. In the next three months two of our kids will move again. New addresses, zip codes, and phone numbers to memorize. Life is beautiful.

Now don't you

Wish you knew

Someone who

Had a -1492?
Get yourself a cupcake-- it's my 100th post!


  1. On a related yet tenuous link... you know you can buy sweatshirts or teeshirts with years on them? ie Funky designs with, say, 1963 emblazoned across the front? I have never, NEVER seen one with MY year of birth on it - not even a crappy one I'd never ever buy.

    And I feel cheated.

    Just thought I'd share.

    Happy 100th, Leah! x

  2. Happy 100th Post.. And to many more hundreds!! I love the way you keep your memory sharp.. I've gotta start now else am sure I'll be left totally dependent on digital, tech stuff that can crash anytime and leave me helpless!!

  3. I suck at dates, but I can generally remember phone numbers and addresses. My skill is that I remember names and faces even if I met you once in passing for 2 seconds. AND, I'll remember your entire family tree as given to me whether by you or as relayed by another, and your social affiliations. Weird, I know. My husband finds it odd, but I consider it a mom with small kids skill to know who the moms are, who their significant others are if they have one, names of kids in their house, and the babysitter's name.

  4. Congratulations on your 100th post. Time flies but are you counting followers? You now have 68. Another important number LOL. I'm quite the opposite I have a hard time giving people my cell phone number because I never use it. I dont want to hold on to the old because I need space on my hard drive for all the new technology I have to learn on a daily basis. Best regards. Anne-Marie

  5. Leah, congrats on your 100th post! Anne-Marie sent me by and I am really glad she did! I am a little bit like you. I have always used little tricks to remember certain things. Saying numbers out loud to remember helps me to. I remember dates by association.....I was in the 6th grade which start in a year with a six...1966, when Paul M died. Seriously that happened.

    Anyway, Anne suggested I invite you to a new website which is at She thought you'd be a great choice for our BON, Blogger of Note. She may be right. Please stop by and get involved. We'd love to have you aboard.

  6. Happy 100 posts!

    I am definately a word person. I'm pretty bad with numbers.

  7. Hi Leah! I remember numbers by shapes on numeric keypads. Phones and ATMs are different of course - Geek Trivia - ATM keypads are numbered from the bottom up, phones from the top down. There's some sort of ergonomic/cunning reason, I hope. Congratulations on the 100th blog entry! I'm close to my next milestone too... at what number do we become veterans/vintage/respectable? Indigo

  8. Hey, thanks for the cupcake and congrats on the milestone! I remember some numbers (childhood phone number: 3342J) but am not a number person. I was surprised at how much math I had to do as a writer-editor in the old days when we counted headlines to make them fit, used multiplication or division to resize photos, etc.

  9. Hi! And thanks for stopping by my blog! My dad is like you with numbers, and keep telling me his associations as if they would help me remember certain numbers - they don't!
    Great post