It had been a long day working out of town. I went back to my hotel intending to crash like Tom Sizemore after a six-day weekend after going down to the bar to check out the final scores.

A girl came down and sat near me. I asked her what she was having and told the bartender to put it on my tab. We were having a nice two-minute single-serving conversation until I mentioned I was having a bad week. Then things got all weird.

SHE: Whenever I'm having a hard time, I remember I'm Working on The Equation.

She reached into her purse and handed me a worn piece of paper. It smelled like lip gloss, gum, cigarettes and cell phone. It simply said "X=Y".

SHE: What Equation are you Working on?

ME: Uh, I'm not working on anything.

To imagine the sneer she gave me, pretend you just watched me eat a baby whole.

SHE: Oh. You're one of those people. You know, it takes just as much Work to do no equation than it does to do The Equation.

This chick had totally lost me.

ME: You totally lost me. Why would I need to do work if I have no equation to work on?

SHE: Well, as you can see on The Paper, I'm Working on X=Y. You're Working on 0=0.

ME: No I'm not. Zero is still, like, an idea. I don't even have a piece of paper.

SHE: Well, you're just Working on 0=0 in your mind then. Everyone needs an Equation to Work on.

ME: Why are you working on X=Y?

SHE: Because without X=Y there would be no Math! It's the Origin of Algebra, the Alpha of Arithmetic!

I knew I was about to crack open a can of Wish I didn't.

ME: What makes you think X=Y?

She just didn't understand the concept. Like I had just come out of the bathroom wearing American flag Zoobaz pants and a see-through tank-top asking if I could wear it to the funeral.

SHE: Can you prove X doesn't Equal Y??

ME: Why should I? It's your equation.

SHE: Well if you can't prove It doesn't, then It probably does.

ME: Yeah, it could. X could be a base ten number and Y a base eight. Or X could represent it's own set like (3+3) and Y equal 9. But do you have any reason to think it does? X and Y are letters, so I'll take the easy route and say X and Y are different until you give me a reason to think otherwise.

SHE: I think you need to open your mind to the fact that The Paper says X=Y and we should Work on The Equation so there can be Math.

ME: Have you ever thought that even if X didn't equal Y there'd still be math?

SHE: I can't even imagine Math without X=Y.

ME: OK.

Wait for it...

ME: Maybe X does equal Y but it's not the origin of algebra. They're two separate thoughts, right? First you should show that X=Y. Then you can start working on the next problem: whether there's any reason to think that it's the alpha of arithmetic.

For the first time, the very countenance of this person changed. As if she was talking to Kermit the Frog this whole time, then suddenly noticed it was really a guy with his hand up a puppet's butt.

SHE: Well. Thanks for the drink.

Said with the enthusiasm of a DMV employee.

ME: No problem.

Good night Toots, you're welcome. Because everyone orders a $21 triple fuzzy sloe greyhound with a slice of cantaloupe and drinks half of it. Yeah, I finished it. Can you blame me?

I went back to my room and, after the head trauma subsided, fell asleep to a late night showing of "Adventures in Babysitting".

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