The Big Cheese

This, that, and the other.

I don’t have a story to tell today, but I have some snippets from the past week. 

On Thursday, one of my kids exclaimed, “Our cheese is so fuzzy!!”  They were really excited. Hearing that, I too was excited. I took out my phone and jotted a note, telling them that there was probably a slice in that exclamation.  To understand my excitement, perhaps you need to know a bit more about me. 

Friday was the birthday of a colleague’s daughter, who reached age two, a student’s dog, also two, and my father, four score and seven years…plus two.  I don’t know the significance of that, but we all wished each other’s significant others a happy birthday. The two-year-olds, having no idea who any of the others were, probably paid the wishes no mind, and the 89-year-old probably not hearing when I passed on the news, seemed equally unimpressed.

On Saturday, another colleague texted me to give me a heads up on the significance of the numbers on Sunday.  He knew I cared about these things, so he wanted to be sure that I didn’t miss the moment as the date showed 02-02-20 20, a fancy palindrome day that didn’t come around too often.  It was more spectacular because, unlike some other fancy dates, this particular palindrome could be celebrated in all countries on the same date, even if they didn’t strangely reverse the logical order of day, month, year, like the Americans.   I loved that the article also mentioned that Sunday was the 33rd day of the year and that there were 333 days to go. Yup. Leap Year!

Sometimes I believe that my friends are laughing at my number nerdisms when I’m not around.  They do not fully appreciate the excitement I get when there are days like this. Back in 2011, I had a little classroom celebration on November eleventh.  We all wore name tags with the number eleven written in different languages, and we made a toast with stick-like snacks (pretzel sticks, carrots, celery, etc.) when the digital clock on my Smartboard showed eleven minutes and eleven seconds past eleven o’clock.  C’mon, how many times do you get to see 11:11:11 on 11-11-11?    

To me, this was almost as momentous as that day when I was in high school and some friends and I went to see a midnight showing of The Who’s movie, The Kids Are Alright. We all headed to the lobby so that we could have a toast (Note: this was how I converted some friends to number nerdism in high school…with toasting opportunities) to the digital time at thirty-four minutes past midnight on the sixth day of May in 1978.  Apparently, the excitement over learning to count never really got old for me, so 12:34 on 5-6-78 was a banner moment in my childhood. In that instant, I felt like the big cheese as a bunch of my high school buddies huddled around my watch like it was the ball at Times Square and cheered with as much enthusiasm as I actually felt, in that fleeting moment.  

And speaking of cheese, this brings me back to my exclaiming student.  The moment had nothing to do with numbers, I’m sorry to say, but everything to do with feeling excitement over seemingly trivial things.  We’re learning about the food web in science, and we’re doing some experiments with decomposers. To some, this would be about as fascinating as the paint-drying observations that people always mock.  We put several types of food (crackers, bread, apple slices, and cheese inside a zip-lock bag, but before that, each team of scientists tried to think of something that might promote mold growth or decomposition.  Lexi’s team had sprinkled warm water on their foods before sealing the bag. Others had breathed their personal microbes into the bag, while another group had wiped the foods on the soles of their shoes. On Thursday, Lexi had that moment of elation when she examined her foods under a hand lens.  Like a gleeful football fan celebrating a Hail Mary completion, she turned to the room, arms raised above her head and shouted her triumphant observation…because, who really doesn’t get excited when they see mold finally…FINALLY growing on their slice of cheese!

Enjoy your nachos, everyone, and happy palindrome day. Oh, yeah, I hope the football game is good, too.

4 thoughts on “The Big Cheese

  1. I love numbers, too. This is forever astonishing to my English students. I mean, if I’d been aware of it, 12:34 on 5-6-78 would have been a banner moment in my childhood. (Just a little too young – and yes, I experienced a pang of regret as I read & realized that I had missed it. At least I caught 02-02-2020.) May we all glory in the details; may your students continue to be excited about fuzzy cheese. Because, really, that is the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love how this piece starts in the present, journeys through the past and comes right back to the present! It is the little things that excite us that make us unique – mine may not be numbers, although I do like them, I think one of mine is watching and waiting for the first eggplant flower to appear, then droop to produce the most fabulous vegetable in the world.


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