I Don't Remember Asking for Commentary at the Grocery Store

Last Saturday Hayden and I were at the grocery store. I was wearing an Apress t-shirt that had a quote on it from Bertrand Russell - here's the key part:

Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty.

Of course, I usually forget what I put on in the morning 5 seconds after it's on my body (especially on the weekends), so I had no idea I was wearning the shirt. We're in line to pay for our stuff when the woman (she appeared to be at least 50, if not older) in front of me asks me (in a somewhat sarcastic tone): "Do you really think there's beauty in mathematics?"

For a second, I thought that was the most bizarre question to ask a complete stranger. Why would she ask me such a question? Then I remembered that I had the shirt with the Russell quote on it, and I said, "Yes." Basically, I answered her question. Then I quickly added (with a smile), "I forgot I was wearing this shirt so I didn't know why you were asking me that question."

She ignored my retort, and decided to add, "You really need to do something different with your Friday nights," and walked away.

I had no idea how to respond. I doubt I wouldn't responded any differently if Hayden wasn't along with me. I'm just not that witty off-the-cuff, nor do I like confrontations (usually!), and frankly, the whole conversation was pretty odd. But I still don't understand why this woman had to speak her mind about her hatred towards math to me. What, did she fail math in school and she's jealous of those who appreciate it? And really, what difference is it to her what I do with my free time anyway?

* Posted at 06.26.2007 06:46:34 AM CST | Link *

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