Friday, June 02, 2006

'putting a gun in your mouth for dummies'

i had today off & rather than spend the entire day shopping to compensate for the fact that i lead an empty shallow existence i spent a majority of the afternoon sitting around my house working on some stuff. a couple hours ago i hit a big, unbreakable wall. it seems my fine art education compensated with an armchair degree in mathematics & physics had become exhausted & i was stuck with a head full of numbers & no means to get them out of my head. it's like having a bad case of blue balls with both hands tied behind your back.

i poked around on the Internet & found the books i needed but too impatient to wait the 5 days for them to arrive i decided to try my luck at barnes & ignoble. i considered calling to see if they had them in stock but faith in humanity over took me for a moment & i thought to myself 'they are math books OF COURSE they will have them.' & headed out the door.

i didn't have both feet through the threshold before a portly, entirely too friendly 'sales grunt' accosted me & began questioning me on whether or not i was a store member & if i needed help. after staring at him blankly until he finally gasped for air - i managed to squeak in 'where's your math section?' he seemed a bit befuddled that i hadn't asked where the paris hilton bio was but quickly regained his composure & eagerly wove me through the aisles in a manner that lead me to believe it was as much a journey of discovery for him as it was for me- especially when we PASSED the big sign that read math & i had to reign him in with a quick whistle- you know, the kind you give a dog when they are eyeing your cookies a little too closely. he wheeled around & threw his arms to the side with a sort of 'tah dah' as if he had just conjured the aisle of his own will & proclaimed 'MATH! is there anything in particular you're looking for?'
why i bothered i'm not sure but i replied 'discrete mathematics' by richard johnsonbaugh, 'discrete mathematics' by laszlo lavasz & 'combinatorial problems & exercises' also by laszlo lavasz' and i could tell by the look on his face he was really wishing i had just asked where paris hilton's bio was. totally disregarding the list of 3 very specific books i had asked for he began again with his spiel about the 10embers discount 'i'll just look thanks.' & much to my delight someone came up to him asking about books on the davinci code. his face lit up as if to say 'finally, someone who wants a REAL book & shuffled them off in the other direction.

i turned to look at the books before me & my heart sank & when it hit my pelvic bone it filled with the bitter taste of disgust. i was standing in front of 'the math department' - all 4 shelves of it- & looking back at me was nothing but a collection of those insipid 'fill in the blank for dummies' books & a smattering of books full of math tricks to impress your friends with at bars (or so i gather- though i don't know too many people that wouldn't beat the shit out of me if in the midst of saturday night chaos i decided to 'wow' them with a few chaos theory brain teasers- so i really don't know what purpose such books serve)

i really dislike the dummie series. for one thing- if you are really so stupid that you can't learn how to decorate your christmas tree without an abridged, dumbed down cliff's note survival guide for the holidays... than maybe you should consider hiring a full time nurse because your life is obviously a horrific tragedy waiting to happen.... & god knows YOU won't die.. you'll end up killing someone else. i also find it very disheartening that a majority of the population has no desire to 'learn'... it's all just 'show me the quickest, easiest way to get through this bullshit.. i've got reality television to watch & i don't want to waste any brain space on potentially useful information.' it's to the extent that a BOOKSTORE doesn't actually carry books of any intellectual value.

people are fucking retarded & in saying that i mean absolutely no disrespect to those who are truly mentally disabled.... generally speaking they are far more interested & passionate about learning & bettering themselves than your average moronic citizen & in fact should be commended for what in many respects is a much more pure grasp on human nature & the ability to surpass one's capabilities if one isn't limited by the idea of limitations.

but i digress... i was bitching about the book selection. which needless to say was nil. more than nil actually, it was deplorable. it was so pathetic that without turning one's head you could go from sagan to feynman to darwin to dawkins simply by using your peripheral vision.
i gave up on discrete mathematics & looked to see if they had any feynman that i didn't already have-(i decided on '6 easy pieces') & began flipping through richard dawkin's 'the ancestor's tale: a pilgrimage to the dawn of evolution'.
and because everyone knows that standing quietly reading is a sure sign that a girl wants the attention of a man.... the men began to swarm around me. an aisle that the store clerk didn't even know existed was suddenly full of dumb guys perusing the shelves, crowding around my feet reaching over each other for copies of 'algebra for dummies'... (a note to you boys... letting a woman know you didn't make it through 8th grade algebra is not as impressive as you may think).

finally one of them broke the silence with the apparently 'ageless' question...
'what are you studying?'
'i don't study, i read'
'well that's good, you study, or you have a family to take care of- so you must have a family.' (he didn't speak much english but it was apparent that my only options in life where to 'study or raise a family' & obviously neither was a deterrent when it came to trying to pick me up)
about 35 annoyed sighs later i gave up hope of ever getting through the table of contents of the book i was holding & decided to get the hell out of there. i walked to the next aisle pretending i was looking for something & two seconds later when i walked back by the math aisle it was once again empty. apparently the sudden urge for finite math had come to its most probable ending- everyone had gone back to the science fiction section to look at naked girl calendars.

at the counter two men making 'networking jokes' continued on with their witty banter for a few minutes- purely for my entertainment. when they finally got around to me & asked if i had found everything i wanted i replied 'actually no, i didn't find anything i wanted because your math section is for a 4th grade reading level. the only reason i am buying this is because some perv wouldn't leave me alone & couldn't decide if he wanted to pick me up or chastise me because i'm 34 & don't have a husband & family. i decided i would find out if it's worth $35 at home... where i DO have a math section that WASN'T written for dummies.'

as i walked to the car i realized i am probably going to be spoken of at store meetings as the crazy-aggro-math-geek-hot chic for weeks to come. i should have just bought paris hilton's bio.