Our bathroom project is almost done. What started with the assembly/installation of a new shower ended up morphing into a full-blown re-model. It shouldn’t have taken so long considering that our bathroom is the size of a postage stamp, but, you know, problems.
Putting together our new shower brought out Callaghan’s one frustration with the United States: our non-compliance with the metric system. The only time he rants about the States is when he’s confronted with fractions. He did plenty of ranting over the shower pieces.
“Blame England,” I said, quick to throw England under the bus. (Being French, Callaghan always says that he “only hates half of me” – the English half. It’s in his genes, he says.)
I get him. I’m American, and I still can’t do fractions. That’s not saying much, though, since the math part of my brain has always been crippled by math anxiety. I remember going to high school rejecting math in academic settings. I just… shall we say… checked out.
How do I know that math anxiety is real? In the army, I made effortless, practical use of trigonometry to cut radio antenna wavelengths based on frequencies. Put me in a MATH CLASSROOM, though, and I’m done. I’m out.
Anyway, when Callaghan came to me waving his arms while announcing, “We’re wasting time! A lot of precious time is being wasted with these… doing of fractions!” I did a quick search for an online fraction calculator. “Shoot,” I said, signaling his cue to recite the fractions he needed to calculate.
He looked at his notes. I waited. I had my fingers set on my numeric keypad. I was expecting to hear the sort of fractional equations I would’ve learned in school had I cared.
“43 1/2 – 3 1/8, 43 7/16 -2 /16, 43 3/16 – 35/16, and 1 3/4 + 2 3/8.”
To which I said, “What?”
“Please enter the numerator and denomina – ” Yes. Please and thank you.