By Alyssa Velazquez
Elm Columnist

As children, we are taught that one plus one equals two. As young adults, women are taught that two scoops of ice-cream plus two toppings solves romantic wounds. As women, we quickly learn that four debit cards plus the four seasons equals infinite shopping possibilities. For women in particular, it seems that the older we get, the greater influence numbers have on our daily lives. The numeric digits of our ages, our weights, our heights, and the available balances on our debit cards transcend mathematical entities and become permanent markers of our identities.

The modern woman can be seen waiting in lines at the gym, the doctor’s office, and the ATM for her individual number, which within the female yellow book of society will pigeon-hole her into a particular category of reference. A girl under five foot is short, a woman over 200 pounds is fat, and a lady over the age of 50 is old. Character, morals, and beliefs cannot be converted mathematically, therefore the unrelenting counting game is left to income, appearances, and unfortunately, love.

Ever since I was three years old, I have been an active member of the theatrical world: dancing, acting, and singing. You name it, I’ve done it. Working with different community theaters across south Jersey exposed me early on to various directors, choreographers, methods, and talented individuals, some of whom I consider my closest friends. Theater in particular, within the time frame of three months, has enabled me to connect with people in a way that no other form of recreation has.

Along with lengthy tech rehearsals, layers of makeup, and late-night fast food stops, in theater there tends to be a lot of “showmances.” In layman’s terms, that stands for a romance that developments between actors thoroughout the course of a show. I always ridiculed “showmances” as figment relationships built out of the deprivation of outside interactions and over exposure to hot theatrical lights— until I found myself falling into one.

I was head over heels for Kenickie in a production of “Grease.” The actor alone was very smooth, and even more so when he was in character. Even though this was our second show together, I was still in high school and painfully shy around him; rarely did I say a word in his presence. As the production continued, I began to notice how open he was with all the girls. I wasn’t the only one who had a crush on him; I was just the only one who wasn’t doing anything about it. Not one rehearsal went by when I didn’t catch snippets of adoring conversations about him and the juicy gossip about his past relationships.

Over time I began to add up all his current admirers with all his supposed past relationships. In the end, not only did I come up with an insanely high number, but somehow the process of addition had subtracted from my admiration. After my math, all I could see was the past and the want-to-be relationships that surrounded this particular male. It made me think, why does the number of sexual partners and relationships a person had affect our opinion of him? Why did it seem that girls were always searching for an individual with the lowest digit of past partners, while men looked for the highest? If added up correctly, could a single digit truly provide us with the probability for relationship success? As a person who is not talented in mathematics to begin with, now I found myself haunted by numbers in an area that my math teachers had failed to include in their lesson plans.

On the closing night of the production after the final bow, I found myself in a midst of goodbyes standing right next to Kenickie. Not having spoken more than a hello, goodbye, and a few smiles, I didn’t expect much of a heartfelt farewell. Much to my surprise, he turned to me and lifted me up in his arms saying, “I’m going to miss seeing your beautiful face.”

As I touched the ground, I realized that past that overzealous compliment I had touched on the fundamental number game. Whether we like it or not we are all rebounds. At the end of the day, we will all be someone’s first and someone’s last, or even someone’s not at all, as in the case with Kenickie. The X factor that we have all been missing in counting our equations is that all those in-between numbers do not reflect on the people themselves so much as it does the amount of times it took them to finally get it right.

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