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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Why Was 6 Afraid of 7?

There is an old joke that goes like this:

-Why was 6 afraid of seven?
-because 7 ate 9!

Why was 6 afraid of 7? Most people think it had something to do with 7's consumption of 9. This is not true.

What happened is that 4 and 7 had been going together for a long time. I mean, everybody expected them to get married and everything. They were voted "most likely couple to succeed" by everyone in their class at school.

But then, one day, no warning at all, 7 breaks up with 4. He did it over the phone. Rumor had it that 7 was hoping to "trade up" on 4 by dating 12. 12 was sexy and dangerous and mysterious… everything that 7 thought that he wanted.

4, of course, was devastated. Ashamed to tell her family...what would her friends think...all of her plans for their future together gone... all that stuff. She called 6. He was an old friend. They were close, long ago, before she had started dating 7. But - as so often happens - her attention had turned to her love and she and 6 had drifted apart.

But now in her pain she turned to 6. He didn’t mind at all. He had really missed her - though he would never have admitted it. They started to spend time together; Just friends, of course. 4’s pain being too fresh, too new. They went to diners, saw movies and walked in parks. They stayed up till the early hours of several mornings talking on the phone about... well, what didn’t they talk about? They quickly grew inseparable.

They grew closer and closer, 4 and 6. Their feelings for each other deepened. Before they even realized what was happening, they were falling in love; Real love. 4 began to realize that what she had had with 7 was shallow, superficial and convenient. She had loved him, of course. But 4 now understood a deeper love... a truer love. She had found Soul Love.

As you might have guessed, things didn’t work too well for 7. He dressed just right, hung out with the right people and made sure he was in the right places at the right times. It’s not as if 12 hadn't noticed him, either. She did. In fact, at first 7 thought things were going just swell. They had made it on their first date. They went out a few more times after that too, but something was just not right and 7 could feel it. It turned out, in the end, that what wasn't right was that 12 really just didn’t care about him. He was a quick screw, a couple free dinners and then she was on to whomever else would take her for a quick and easy ride.

12 wasn't much into attachments.

Devastated, 7 turned his attention back to 4. What a mistake he had made! He could not wait to explain it all to her - promise he was hers forever this time - and hold her once again in his arm. But 7 had been so focused on his conquest of 12 that he had no idea what 4 had been up to. He did not know about she and 6.

You can imagine how stunned 7 was when he found out.

"6? Wait... 6?" He remembered that number, sure. He was some old friend of 4 or something. But 7 hadn’t seen or heard of 6 in years!

7 sank into a deep despair. He wasn’t very smart, that number 7. Perhaps you had suspected that all along. But see, the thing is, when a number is not extremely bright, and he is stricken with despair; when he is... desperate, he often feels the need to react physically. 7 began to feel a violent urge. He began to think about 6.

Word soon found its way around to 6, who was understandably concerned. 7 was, for certain, much bigger than 6. 6 began to worry. He worried a lot. He made certain not to walk past 7's house. He refused to go to the mall with 4 and he insisted they avoid their favorite diner. The parks, of course, were completely out of the question. In fact 6 became afraid to be seen with 4 at all! If 7 caught them together, it would make things so much worse.

His fear of 7 became so great that it had a devastating effect on his relationship with 4.

"Why can’t you face him?" She would ask.

"Stand up for yourself - stand up for us!" She would shout.

She didn’t understand at all, thought 6. This wasn’t just anyone, it was 7! 6 wouldn't stand a chance and he knew it; they all new it.

4 was crushed. She had lost 7 and now her relationship with 6 was falling apart. If he could not even stand up for their love, then what was it worth? Nothing. Nothing!

Time passed. 4 met 14 in the express lane of the supermarket. He backed into her, her bag toppled and groceries spread across the floor. Clumsily, they knocked heads bending over to pick up the goods. They were both very sorry - they said so many times each. They are married now - 2 kids too! Little 3 and 14 jr.

6 and 7 moved on too of course. But 7 never forgave 6. To this day, 6 actively avoids running into him. What would happen if they met? Who knows? There would probably be an awkward moment… a realization of the loss of years... a hint of the insignificance of it all; not much else, to be sure. Then they would walk away and not speak of it to anyone. Did 6 ever really have anything to fear in the first place?

In any case, that’s pretty much it. That’s why 6 was afraid of 7.

And what about 9? Had 7 actually eaten him? Truth be told, 9 was out of town on business when the whole affair went down. By the time he came back, it was old news. Somehow or another the whole 789 rumor got started, but 9 didn’t mind much. It gave him an edge of notoriety. When girls at the bar realized he was 9... the 9, well, it didn't hurt him one bit.

And in the end, to 9, that was all that really mattered.

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