By the numbers

23:12, Dec 11 2012

Yesterday I took to Twitter to ask "is the past tense of forgo, forwent?" I did this, not because I was in the process of trying to construct a sentence in which someone forwent something but just because I wanted to know. This is the sort of idle question that pops into my head all the time. And if you were to ask me if I'm a numbers person or a word person, I would have to fall squarely on the side of verbiage over mathematics.

And yet...numbers do have their strange pull on me.

The first time I recall being entranced with the power of numbers was when I was six years old and my primary school teacher Mrs Magon explained that numbers didn't just go up to 10 (counting on your fingers) or even 20 (did we wear sandals* because they were practical or because they helped extend our counting ability?), in fact, they went on forever. They were infinite.

Naturally this piece of information blew my tiny mind. It would also inspire a world class piece of cuteness as for years afterwards my favourite way of expressing love toward my mother would be to tell her that I loved her "as far as numbers go".


But I actually have favourite numbers too. Five, for instance. When possible I like to pick raffle tickets that have fives in them. This could be because I was born at 5.55am, which has a nice repetitious quality to it. Never mind that it also meant that I kept my mother up all night. Whoop, all the fives!


I also really like twos and I especially like twos and fives in combination. Twenty-five and 52 are pretty good numbers, though now that I think of it, I have a definite preference toward the former.

When I shared this piece of oddness with the Silver Fox the other night (who is not only good with words but also enviably au fait with things numerical... and therefore a nightmare to play Scrabble with) he asked if it was the curvy shape of the five and the two that I liked. I definitely prefer them to the angularity of a four or a seven, however threes and eights are curvy too but hold no special appeal, so it must be something more than just their curvaceous shape. That they are almost mirror images of each other is probably relevant.

Which brings me to palindromic numerals, and particularly palindromic dates. Human beings are hardwired to like patterns and symmetry in particular and I am certainly no exception. That it is 12/12/12 today delights me. That 21/11/12 slipped by without me noticing annoys me. 

Despite the appeal of certain numbers, I still hold no truck with numerology (nor any -ology that doesn't employ actual science to test its theories)

But the real question is... is this normal? Do other people have strong numerical preferences? Do you have favourite numbers and if so, what are they and why do you think you prefer them?

* Remember those cheap, ugly brown sandals your mother made you wear to school? It costs a lot of money to look that cheap now.