Female Number Torture

I have always liked math and numbers. Numbers can be fun, like when you are counting your cash in Monopoly, or tallying your miles in Mille Bornes. Numbers can be useful, such as in determining exactly how many miles are left to go on I-95 before you reach the next exit with a Panera Bread, or a Costco.

I find myself thinking in numbers a lot. I have been crunching numbers for many years now. It all started somewhere in my senior year of college, and I have gotten really good at it since. I can add & subtract, divide and multiply to my heart’s content until the numbers make sense. I even like doing the taxes – well at least the math part. OK, call me a geek – but I just like it when everything adds up.

I have learned that numbers have their evil side, or rather a seamy underbelly.  Some numbers are ugly, no matter which way you turn them. Such as the number of things that have not been completed from my to-do list. Or the figure in dollars of late fees incurred at the library. Those ugly numbers pale in comparison to the number of times I have hollered at my children. Thankfully, I can control these numbers, and have made concerted efforts to curb these numerical trends.

The thing is, even though numbers can be manipulated, they don’t inherently lie. They are truthful, they are plain, they don’t exaggerate, or understate. They are not loyal in any way.

Numbers have always been a tool, a measurement to help me understand the bigger picture, but lately, instead of leaving me with a sense of comprehension, certain numbers are SCARING me. And this, leaves me baffled, perplexed, and basically, unsettled.

The numbers I am speaking of are simple measurements. Quantities. Arcane amounts. They are:

  • weight
  • age
  • number of gray hairs

and the following equation: Current Age (CA) + Years Left (X) = Total Age (TA). Solve for X.

The Tanita Scale. Looks harmless, doesn't it?


Female Number Torture happens when simple numbers become larger than life, when our minds allow numbers to define us, even affect our emotions. There are the usual instruments of torture, such as scales, calculators and calendars. Last week I found a new instrument of torture, far more evil and subversive than those. At the suggestion of one of the trainers at the Y, I hopped on something called a Tanita Scale. This marvelous example of modern science not only tells you your weight, if you enter in a few statistics (height, age) it will throw some pretty scary numbers your way. Humdingers like: pounds of fat, percentage of muscle, how many calories you should not exceed for your height/weight/age combo, and the MOST evil number of all: metabolic age.

I have to say, I was so offended by this new form of digital torture, that in a state of extreme mental self-defense, and denial, I almost went off numbers altogether.


Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. I’m one of those people who actually believed, and threw around harum-scarum, clichéd phrases like, “age doesn’t matter,” and “you are only as young as you feel.” Granted, these are true statements, BUT for me personally, at this juncture (39 years, 10 months and 25 days) they aren’t having the same effect that they supposedly were having on everyone I said them to.

My rational mind, and some of my most loveliest, older-than-I, friends, tell me that I have nothing to worry about, this is just a phase. I can accept that. Yet, I continue to subject myself to milder forms of Female Number Torture.

Ultimately, I have narrowed down this numerical anxiety to one simple question. Even if I can’t solve the above equation, this is the more important matter: It’s not so much the value of x, but rather, what does one do with X?

Time is getting short, and I want to make it count. So I will try hard to not let the numbers get to me. I will be strong. I will shake it off. Just 45 days to go.


Jersey girl by birth, sailor by marriage, wife & mother by grace.

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