Fool’s Gold: Aftermath

February 17, 2015


Not to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty much a math genius. Like, I scored more points on the SAT than the Seahawks and Patriots scored in the Super Bowl COMBINED, which means I’m worthy of a halftime show with performers way more famous than Katy Perry, whoever he is.

Other greats, like Stephen Hawking and Benjamin Franklin, must prove themselves. But I never needed to publish a groundbreaking book or invent kites, let alone take a college math class. My intellect was free to study the humanities, which is where all the chicks are, anyway.

All great minds must eventually come out of well-deserved retirement to save the world. In my case, I have been called upon to tutor a fifth grader struggling with math. Let’s call her “Martha” to protect her identity, even though her name is Sophie.

Fifth grade math is kid’s stuff to us whizzes. So I cruised right through “Martha’s” homework, until I got to the actual mathy parts, and the fish jumped its tank. Her handout read less like a NASA flight plan and more like a doctoral dissertation on the hermeneutic aspects of the extant senatorial dockets of Caesar’s early reign.

Which is to say: not a lot of numbers. The presence of words didn’t exactly unnerve me. As a dual math/word prodigy, I was the only kid in class who didn’t stab myself with a mechanical pencil whenever we solved word problems like:

Jeb Bush leaves Philadelphia on an Amtrak train at 11:45 carrying 8 apples. Chris Christie leaves New Orleans on a Union Pacific train at midnight carrying 6 million oranges. How many times will they change their stance on vaccination before Hillary Clinton announces what she’s having for breakfast?

But “Martha’s” problems contained neither transportation nor fruit. And the solutions they demanded were not absolutely correct numerical answers, also known as “the entire point of math.” Instead, I had to “describe the relationship between the corresponding terms.”

I was forced to deduce that, in my absence, THEY CHANGED MATH.

The only “corresponding terms” I studied in fifth grade were part of the sexual education curriculum. And we were definitely not allowed to “describe their relationships.” Which meant that’s all we did at recess, because, pssh, we so knew, like, everything about “corresponding terms” from personal experience.

Gone are the Days of Yore, when you could ace a test with a concealed calculator. Calculators don’t describe anything, except for those glorious words you can make by reading digits as letters. (80085 is still my favorite number.)

I don’t have kids of my own, or for that matter, anyone else’s. But if I did, I would not want them wasting time describing their thought processes—in their own words, no less! We really ought to pawn our children’s math homework off on artificial intelligence, so that kids can spend more of their time trying to explain to me what the heck is going on in Minecraft.

They might as well. By the time robots take over, literally every means of beneficial employment will be filled by an un-unionized worker who doesn’t demand holidays, retirement, or ergonomics. And I say good! We humans will have more time to sit around and enjoy a hearty laugh at the robots’ expense, and they won’t even realize it.

Understanding any humor more complex than the letters “LOL” is beyond a robot’s capacitors. They can’t even understand sarcasm! When my cell phone falls into the toilet and I say, “Smooth move, ex-lax,” my phone thinks I’m actually complimenting it!

YOU, on the other hand, are laughing at the many toilet-related layers to my razor-wire wit. That is, no offense, because you fart. Bodily functions are the font of all good chortles.

Sadly for them, Earth robots do not have any blunder in their busses. It’s technically possible that robots will someday snicker at each other’s oil seepages, but scientific studies probably show that robots will learn to turn water into wine, or wind and sun and geothermal activity into electricity, before they will truly comprehend gas being expelled from an orifice.

So you and your munchkins can pitch the hard work to the machines, relax, and enjoy some good ol’ fashioned family bum rumblers. Better yet, you can read the rest of this column for guaranteed* laughter!

*Not available in all states of mind.

You see, in a fortunate cock-up of fate, some of my cherished readers have mistaken my weekly harbinger as a humor column. That is, while sounding the warning bells, I make people laugh WITHOUT EVEN TRYING. Yet one more way my inherent genius saves the world!

To show your gratitude, you can talk to “Martha’s” mother. She keeps calling about a tutoring refund, and I’m too busy choreographing fireworks for my halftime show.


(Math graphic by Tom Brown / CC; Robot by Steve Maw / CC)

This piece was written by:

Zach Hively's photo

Zach Hively

Zach Hively is the brilliance behind Fool’s Gold, the weekly column. He contributes regularly to the Durango Telegraph, and he is also a fiction writer, craft beer blogger, and work-for-hire editor. If you have nuggets to share, tweet @ZachHively or visit

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