This is a story from freshman year of college, back when college life was more normal.
“Have you tried adding a few more sixes?” said Josh, looking across to the bench where a girl with flaming red hair sat with her laptop perched on her legs.
“Let’s see,” she said in a bright, chirpy voice, looking through her thick-framed glasses at the screen and tapping quickly, “point one-six-six-six-six.” She shook her head forcefully. “It still isn’t working. l can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong!”
“Which problem is that?” I said. We were in the same math class together, and I thought I could at least try to help while we waited in the hall for our classroom to empty from the previous class.
“Here,” she said. “I’ll show you. Come over here and sit down, young fella.” She gestured to the bench. I sat down while she pointed at the screen. “See, I’ve done this part and I got all of them right,” she said. “So now I’m supposed to guess what the limit is.”
I looked at the problem. I wasn’t quite sure what to do, but then I had a thought. “Try adding a bunch more sixes to the answer.”
She laughed and said, “Ohhhhhh, like this?” She mashed the six key several dozen times and then hit “submit.” Green. Correct answer.
“Oh, that’s funny,” she said.
“Yeah, I think it’s like a fraction, like one ninth or something…or maybe one-sixth.”
“Oh yeah, it’s one-sixth,” said she, having just pulled out her calculator. “By the way, what’s your name?”
“I’m Jack,” I said. “What’s yours?”
She said Danielle, but I heard “Jenya” and said it out loud. She giggled and corrected me.
“I’ve never heard that one before.”
“I just hear things,” I said, grinning sheepishly. “It sure is cold today,” I said, changing the subject. I noticed her enormous fur boots that dwarfed her long, slender legs and made her look like a character out of How To Train Your Dragon. Her blue backpack, shaped like a turtle shell and covered in white spikes, added to the impression.
“Yeah,” said Danielle in response to my observation. “I was in Walmart yesterday and I saw the cutest little onesie, but it didn’t have a butt flap!” she said, laughing. “How dumb is that? I mean, I don’t want to have to take the onesie off just to go to the bathroom.”
Just then Josh, sitting on the bench beside us, looked up from his cell phone. “Wait, what?” he said, with a mystified look. “Why would it need a flap?”
“To go to the bathroom,” said Danielle as if it were perfectly obvious (which it was I thought).
Josh still looked confused, “But don’t they have…like…buttons on the front that you can undo?”
Danielle persevered in explaining, “Yeah, but I have to sit down to go to the bathroom.”
Seeing Josh still looked confused, Danielle continued, “Cuz I’m a girl and I don’t have…anything to direct stuff with.” She was stating the obvious now, but Josh still didn’t seem to get it.
“Wait, okay…” he said, attempting to process the information.
If Danielle was getting impatient, she certainly wasn’t showing it, “I can draw you a picture if you want,” she said.
Having reached this critical juncture in the conversation, I rose to my feet with a nervous chuckle, “I think I’m going to leave before things get any weirder.”