Probability of a Date

I was in high school, when I applied math to my love life for the first time. I fell in love, and barricaded in the heavy, still vacuum of my room, was desperately counting clock ticks, waiting for “the call” from the only person whose existence mattered. My brain was justifying the silence by devising elaborate excuses for why he hadn’t called “yet.”

It suddenly occurred to me that insecure, self-pitying anticipation could be turned into a confidence-boosting calculation of the probability of his call. What are the chances of his call, given the rumors of another girlfriend he may have had? I played with the concept of conditional probability in my mind. How does the likelihood of him being interested diminish with each passing day without a call? The results did not look promising. My attention, however, was diverted from the lost "love of my life" to a world of quiet concentration where I was queen, which significantly shrank his importance. Mathematically directing myself away from loveless depression, I tuned in to the world again and realized there would be many more love adventures to enjoy.

Despite the discouraging love revelations through numbers, I still loved math. As any obsession, it was a love and hate affair. I openly resented it when my father, with a spark in his eyes, was trying to show me yet another puzzle. I disliked the quizzes and especially competitive tests in school. But I could not miss noticing the beauty of its clear proofs and the magic of the focus and clarity it required. Math was a sanctuary with definite answers, a democratic kingdom where the shy and the outgoing were equal. Surprisingly, I discovered it was after the school math meetings, unlike the fencing studios, piano recitals or the ice-skating rink, where the boys that I liked were hanging out. I embraced math, struggled with it and fell in love with it, and sometimes because of it (but this is another story).


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