Saturday, November 8, 2014

Twelve, More or Less

There is a certain elegance about numbers; the way proofs clinch the correct answer and how twelve always follows eleven. A foot can be counted on for its twelve inches and a half day contains no more than twelve hours. And then there is mid-night.

However a Baker’s dozen is thirteen and the twelfth month of year is named after the number ten (Decem). Twelve is the last year before teenage-hood but some stay there forever. In soccer and football the twelfth man refers to the 50,000 to 90,000 spectators cheering or jeering at the right time to give an advantage to the home team.

There is also the story of twelve in my life. How I was minus twelve when Peggy was born and she came to Los Angeles to feel the earth quake my barging in on the world in 1933 ... then returned to New York... not to meet me until I was twice twelve in 1957, back in L.A. She doesn’t remember that occasion but 24 years later we met for good. A match when I was five and she seventeen would have been highly unsuitable but at age fifty & sixty-two almost unremarked upon. And now, somehow in defiance of the calendar, we are the same age.

On Tuesday Republicans swept the country…….or did they? The bottom twelve Red states combined (19 million) have half the population of California (38 million). Even with the addition of the next ten they comprised less than the number California residents. Yet these 22 Red states will send 44 senators to Washington while we send two. In other words the great majority of Americans live in urban settings and are solidly Democratic. The Republican vote represents ranches, golf courses, equestrian trails and mega-farms owned by the 1% and where few people live.

In the twelfth century things didn’t look so good either. The Hanks and Dicks were exchanging thrones in England bathing the countryside in regal blood. There were twelve knights at Arthur’s Round Table itching to joust and with a nose for trouble though a can opener might be needed to reach their nostrils. The Church still held a choke hold on the lives of the flock. Yet the stage was being set for the burst of a Renaissance to follow. A millennium later, out of today’s dark period, embers may yet light up the centuries to come.

Twelve has shown itself to be a portentous number. The last time I bought a dozen bagels the woman gave me the senior discount by adding an extra one. Jesus thought he had twelve apostles but we have to subtract Judas making it eleven. Christianity flourished nevertheless. 

Perhaps in two years the no-shows will show up on Election Day and vote to throw the rascals out. Twelve is bursting with the seeds of (can I say this word?) revolution. For Republicans who think they have a mandate, think again. The President got a mandate two years ago when the whole nation voted. Think, Twelve Angry Men and remember, Twelve Years a Slave won the Oscar last year. The twelfth day of Christmas (January 6th) is Epiphany Day. I never met one I didn't love.  

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