Numbers, Wainers, and Boobies, Oh My!

At the risk of presenting myself as a total nut job, I going to talk about numbers and how we see them in our heads. As long been able to count (a good ten or twelve years now), a sequence of numbers has always had certain trail it follows in my head. I would guess that’s the way it is for everyone, but I’m curious how it is for other people. So after reading this, I hope you’ll play along and humor me with what you see in your head.

When I start counting from one, the numbers go upward (like north on a map), up to thirty. At thirty-one, they take a left turn and keep going in a straight line all the way to 100. At 101, they take a right turn, upward again, and travel in a line up to 130, just like they do from one to thirty, except over a level. Then at 131, they take another left until they get to 200. This repeats itself from there on. It looks like this:


The trail does the same thing, but in reverse, if I’m counting backwards. If someone says, or I read, a number, say 42, I picture it in the same “location” every time. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone’s age, a ranking, or if I’m calculating a 6% restaurant tip.

The question is why. Why do my numbers do a lefty at thirty-one? Maybe somebody studies this stuff. Before I wrote this post, I googled a few phrases but couldn’t find anything that relates to this. This all has nothing to do with anything, except perhaps, that this sort of thinking also brought my novel into the world.


By the way, my I drew those numbers with a contraption called “Bamboo” that my daughter, Katie, gave to me for my birthday. It’s about the size of an Ipad, and looks like a paper note pad but it uses a special paper and pen that create a digital image which you can text, email, or whatever. I used it to insert a drawing into my novel because my keyboard didn’t have the characters that I needed. I suppose it could be used to draw wainers and boobies, but I choose not to. Oh, what the hell.


So, let’s see yours. No, not your wainers and boobies. Tell me where the numbers go in your head. Do they start at one and spiral outward into infinity? Do they do a kind of cha-cha, going forward two, then right three? Or am I just the lone oddball that shouldn’t have let this notion escape my mind?

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