SPANDEX's Return

(part the seventh)

A group of 8 people grabbed me and led me up to the altar. I looked to OMAR for help, but he was busy pretending that he didn't know me. They tied me to the cross... or was it an addition sign. Above me I could see some computations:
4 + 4 = 3
4 + 4 + 4 = 2
4 + 4 + 4 + 4 = 1
4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 = 0
As I was looking at those numbers, inspiration hit.

A long time ago, long before I had ever heard of SPANDEX, I led a much different life. I was a travelling mathematican. Living on the road, I would exchange math lessons for food, shelter, and a tank of gas. Throughout the economic downturn, the Hobomorphism movement was quite popular; I was one of the pioneers. My claim to fame was to invent a system of symbols to write on people's sidewalk with our ubiquitous stick of chalk. During this time I had to be a jack of all theorems, but one of my favourite branches was Group Theory. Seeing a reference to modular arithmetic gave me an inspiration- Latin Squares.

"You guys think Euler was infallible, right?" The priests looked at me as if I asked if water was wet, as this was a keystone to their faith. "Therefore," I continued, "there can be no Graeco-Latin for any k of the form k = 4 n + 2." They nodded to show their agreement. My trap was sprung.

I told the scribe (positioned at the sacred chalkboard) to write down a list of numbers- a 10 x 10 Graeco-Latin square. Upon much gasping, I concluded, "Therefore, Euler was wrong."

There was a momentary pause. Suddenly, as though a switch had been turned on, there was a mass exodus from the altar. GRIFF-HO!

OMAR came up to me. "Well done. I knew you would succeed." He did not mention his previous unfaithfulness. I decided to let it pass. For does it not say in THE GOOD BOOK, "Be true to both friends and foes. For the friends when confronted with truth will remain true to the friendly path. Similarly, true truth is opposed to the path of foeness. Keep in the truth and your foes will not be able to keep their eyes on the path. The Detour Is Unavoidable!" TDIU is seen frequently on SPANDEXian churches and other holy sites. This is the reason why I was true with OMAR and asked, "Why did we have to do that? Was this trip really necessary?"

In reply, he pointed behind me. There I saw a glowing vision of SPANDEX. He winked at me and I knew that I was in it for the long run.


This story is copyright 1996 by David Steinberg and may be distributed freely as long as this cute little note is attached.

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