Memoir Excerpt: Learning to Add

I have been working on my memoir for a long time.  When I finished the first draft it was 150,000 words.  I got it down to 120,000 and now 90,000 words.  Finally a reasonable length to submit for publication.  But the process of cutting left a lot of scenes out of the book.  I am going to share some of my favorite passages that aren’t in the book here on my blog.  I hope you enjoy them.

Mrs. Potter was my first grade teacher.  I didn’t like her.  I didn’t think she was nice at all, especially compared to my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Bigio.  I needed a nice teacher and started hating school because I was sure Mrs. Potter didn’t like me.  For some reason, I couldn’t deal with numbers as numbers once we started using them to add and subtract.  I had to anthropomorphize the numbers to deal with them and came up with a complex system to add.



Mrs. Potter believes in threes, but I don’t.  Shemath_is_easy_poster-re802a45cfcb742638162006324d910c5_wfq_8byvr_324 believes in fours too, and sixes and sevens and eights and nines.  Not me.  ‘Cause those aren’t real numbers.  Only five is real.  All those other numbers are just different fives.  Some are nice fives.  Some are mean and greedy.

Nice fives give me presents every time I use them.  Greedy fives charge taxes when I use them.

When I add, I talk to the numbers, but only in my head so I won’t get in trouble.  I like the nice fives—six and seven and eight and nine.  Nine is the nicest of all.  She gives me four cents every time I use her.  I always say thank you.  The fives hear me.  I know they do.

I don’t like the greedy fives, like three and four.  I keep telling them not to be so greedy.  I tell them they should be ashamed of themselves for charging taxes, but they don’t listen.

Mrs. Potter just says three plus three is six, four plus five is nine.  She never tells us the real truth, what the answers are before we pay all the taxes and get all the presents.  She never tells us about all that.  But I know who those numbers really are.

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