The other night at dinner we were happily practicing math facts with our eight-year-old, because we are good parents despite what that bitch Debra said. Also, “math facts” are just basic addition/subtraction/multiplication tables, but for some reason since we got old the math-bosses decided they needed a new name for them. Like you don’t “carry the one” any more, either. You “regroup”. I guess the word tables is sort of confusing in that context.

Anyway. I threw out NINE TIMES NINE pretty much straight away because that’s my calculator tester and everything. When she couldn’t get the answer, I was like “You have to know nine times nine! That’s the best calculator tester ever!” And everyone looked at me and I got the weirdest feeling that maybe everyone used a different calculator tester. Or no calculator tester at all.

“What the fuck are you talking about?” my husband asked. (Oh fine, he didn’t say fuck because we were at the table–see? confusing!–with the kids but you and I both know when it’s there even silently.)

“My calculator tester?” I sasked. (I just made that word up and I love it! It’s said-and-asked all smushed together. Works, right?) “You know, like before you balance your checkbook or add up all of the Girl Scout cookie orders and you have to make sure the calculator works? Or when you see one in the store and the little screen isn’t lit up because it’s solar and you can’t keep going until you wake it up, so you need your calculator tester?”

They all just stared at me.

“Mine’s nine-times-nine,” I added stupidly.


“You don’t have one, do you?” I asked, looking at Joe.

“Of course I don’t have one,” he said.

“So how do you know if your calculator is working?” I needed to know this.

His response? “Calculators always work.”

Is he right? Am I crazy? Actually you’re probably super busy, so just the first question will suffice.