The 10,000

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“So… how was Seattle?”

“It was nice! We started with coffee, which, I mean, is a quintessential Seattle staple. So – perfect for a Seattle date.

“Actually, we started at Pike Market, but that’s because I was there. Because it was morning and I needed to eat and everyone told me to go there. And I’m not sorry I did, because I bought a pound of cherries and ate every one, except for the three I shared with Jodi, and the other three I gave to my date.

IMG_7344“But, first, he showed me this wall of gum, where gum-chewers from around the world found the mecca upon which they can spit their chewed-up wishes, an aspartame manufacturer’s wet dream. Which was sickly fascinating in post-pop-culture, artificially-flavored sort of way. And then he took me to see a two-headed taxidermied pig. And then we went for coffee.

“It was a tiny place, and the girl behind the counter told us that she had had four double espressos. And then she couldn’t find the plunger thingie, or maybe it was a bar rag or something that she needed, somehow, to make our coffee. I suggested she look in the refrigerator. It wasn’t there. But she figured out how to make our coffees without the thing she needed to make them with. Walking into that place was like walking into a cloud of caffeine. The contact high was amazing.

“And I’m sensitive to substances. There was a time where I could hold a bag of coffee beans and feel the buzz, handle a glass of red wine and get a little tipsy. It’s why I can’t smoke pot anymore. Last time I did, I fainted and busted a glass plated photograph on my friend’s wall. I have a scar on my shoulder. You need more coffee?”

“I’m good.”

“Pour me the rest. Thanks. So, we talked on the grass after walking through this sculpture garden. Lots of tourists took our picture because we were sitting underneath a bright red, abstract piece. Talking about art. Not other people’s art. Our art. About, you know, the things we make. He’s an artist. A painter. A good one. I don’t like calling myself an artist. But, I don’t know…”

“What?”

“I don’t know what else to call it. What I do. When I’m not doing that thing that pays my rent. Which I call a craft. Or a trade. Something like that. You know what he told me?”

“What?”

“He said – in the course of one’s life, one meets 10,000 people. I told him that sounds like a really low number.”

“It does.”

“Anyway. We’re drinking our coffees, espressos, and talking art and he tells me that the average person meets 10,000 people in the course of his or her life – and we decided it must mean 10,000 people who would recognize that person the day after they spoke with him or her, and I realize, if I’m in the middle of my life, which I kind of am, then I’ve already met 5000 people. At least. He would be 5001.”

“So…”

“But – I also realize that I have no idea what the average person is. I mean, if you put all the statistics together and divided them by 7 billion and figured out what ‘average’ is, I bet you’d only find one person on the earth who fits the bill.”

“So – there’s no such thing as average.”

“Well, there is, but it’s far from average.”

“Ah.”

“So, anyway, I looked it up on some website that said the ‘average’ person meets 10,000 – 200,000 people in their lifetime. I mean, that’s kind of – a large discrepancy between numbers, don’t you think?”

“…”

“I’m making more coffee. But here’s what I’m thinking, too. The number of people you meet grows exponentially, right? For a while. I mean, you’re born and you meet one person, hopefully, your mother, right? And then your father, or whomever, and then they come, two more, then four more, then eight more… relatives, friends of your parents, then teachers and fellow students. It balloons through formal education. And then, if you work in the service industry, which employs the most people in the world, I read, the numbers go through the roof. Unless you’re working at a diner in a one horse town that no one ever goes to except the toothless old cowboy who tells bad jokes, the guys who work at the garage, the owner/ line cook who always puts your order at the back of the line, and his angry wife who makes the coffee too weak and always hints at how little she’s getting laid, but somehow makes the best blueberry pie, right? Plus the truck-driver distributors, but they prefer to take their coffee to go.”

“Here’s some water -”

“Thanks. So, okay. I looked it up. A woman has a finite number of eggs – around 400,000. While we’ve been brought up to believe that this finite number of eggs is a tragedy of being female, it’s not like anyone’s going to run out of them. And a man ejaculates 280 million sperm every time he, you know, ejaculates. So – really the number of people we meet in our lives pales in comparison to the number of people we meet before our lives.”

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“Sperm aren’t people, Amy.”

“Okay. Personalities. But – you know what I’m saying.”

“Not really.”

“Well, first off, the narrative of the egg and sperm has changed greatly over the course of our lives. And science has noticed that it’s actually the egg who chooses the sperm, based on whatever promises the sperms whisper into her membrane. These little conquistadors are better team players than we originally thought. It’s not every man for himself. It’s a team sport that involves a lot of wing-men and wining and dining that egg with sweet-nothings. And maybe a poem or two. And the egg, she sits there on her throne like a strong little buddha, and waits.'”

“What’s your point?”

“Obi, statistics are a mess of a nightmare. Average is a crock of shit. And, if life is fractal upon fractal upon fractal -”

“Huh?”

“- then, I fear, we’re all sperm. Where’s the egg, Obi?”

“I’m cutting you off.”

“We need to find the egg!”

2 thoughts on “The 10,000

  1. This makes me smile and laugh and think a bit too! I hope I meet more like 200,000 people in my life and that I get to hear a bit of their story. It was great to see you last night and we must catch up over a glass of wine soon…I don’t get tipsy just holding the bottle so we should have good conversation for at least 20min 😉

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