“The number 1 exists.
You can always count further by adding 1 more.
No amount of counting will bring you back to 1 again.”
–Peano’s axioms for the natural numbers ♣from The Kingdom of Infinite Number: A Field Guide (Bryan Bunch: W.H. Freeman and Company, NY, c. 2000.)
Wendy was listening to the radio in the car with her son Charlie while she was taking him to school. Charlie wanted to listen to the Top 20, but Wendy just couldn’t bear it. She suggested Soul Town, which usually worked as a compromise for them. Soul Town was playing an obscure ballad, so Wendy flipped down to Backspin and landed on a Public Enemy song, Rebel Without a Pause. When she heard the genius horn sample, she was immediately flooded with memories and feelings from her college days. So she started to cry.
Her son saw her face in the mirror and asked, Why are you crying?
She said, This song reminds me of some old friends. I miss them.
As the song played through, Wendy tried to hear it from Charlie’s six-year-old perspective. The lyrics are politically charged and restless, angry, confrontational. In 1988, Wendy and her friends respected the message, and admired the power behind it, but they also danced to it. Wendy was overcome with longing to be with those friends, those same friends, once again. But even if she could arrange it, they aren’t the same people anymore. They aren’t as stupid as they used to be, when they all lived together in a big group and made messy mistakes. Now they live cleaner. They live more alone.
Wendy didn’t say any of this to her son. They were pulling into the driveway of his school.
She said, Music does this to me sometimes.
He said, Then turn the music off. Because I’ll be embarrassed if someone sees you crying.
She said, I’m just having feelings. They aren’t even bad feelings.
Charlie said, Maybe you should spend the day in a hot tub.
Then he got out of the car.
That would make me pretty sick, thought Wendy. In fact it might even kill me.
But there is a hot tub at her ridiculous, gym-on-steroids, so she could try it. Just for a few minutes.
No, Wendy, forget it.
Hot tubs never live up to their promise. They always disappoint.