My name is Rude Awakening. I used to be a racehorse but I broke my leg in a motorcycle accident, so now, as a voice actor and computer-generated entity, I solve equations and crack dad jokes in low-budget videos made for kids who don’t like math.
Every year throngs of teachers and their pupils used to crowd the lawn at my plantation. A feast of hotdogs and hamburgers was served; and at the end of the evening honor roll students were invited to stay overnight in the barn. But then, one year, a sleepwalker, bunking in the hayloft, plunged to his fourth-grade death and shattered into a million pieces.
So now we gather, instead, to celebrate math as a day camp and craft festival, with a math facts face painting tent and a plethora of peanut-free snack vendors, pushing hot pretzels and frozen treats, like Tiger Ice—a sour snow cone experience. Kids are still welcome to explore the upper levels of the hayloft and barn, but they aren’t allowed to nap up there without adult supervision (and only then, provided both parties are wearing a harness).
I don’t mind presiding over Math Camp, but every year some little brainiac toying with a rubik’s cube wants to know what it was like to be a racehorse and where on earth I learned how to factor polynomials; but I never know what to say. My mother and father, my brothers and sisters, they could all juggle complex and imaginary numbers; but the fundamental theorem of algebra is of little comfort on your way to the glue factory.
Life isn’t fair. I don’t know why. The universe clicked like on my baby pictures and the rest is history. There’s nothing I can do with this information except summarize the main events of my life with a smile resembling the balanced equation of sorrow and gratitude.
I’m not saying God plays favorites. Though, who knows, maybe he does. Have you read the Old Testament? I’m not in it; but I can tell you, before I made my fortune, racing, I paid the rent, performing third-grade mathematics door-to-door. Was it humiliating? Sure. But look at me now. The other day, I bought my daughter’s college. She studies zoos there. That’s all she talks about, is zoos. All she does all day, is visit and talk to zoo animals. She’s collecting a book of interviews. She wants to know how animals at the zoo experience time and what percentage of zoo animals would commit suicide if they knew what suicide was. The president of the college thinks she’s a philosopher disguised as a scientist; but as far as I know, she’s neither philosopher nor scientist. She’s just a horse looking for answers.