Counting down from bottom to top, I mean ten to one after the fashion popularized by The Late Show, or from last to first and getting better and better all the time, I give you the…
Top Ten Numbers of All Time
What could be more appropriate that to blast off with zero, eh? Just ask NASA, zero is where the action is, where all the fun begins, where the blast offs. The concept of zero, a number for nothing, makes simple arithmetic, uh, simple. Try adding a column of Roman numerals, which weren’t really numbers but letters, and see for yourself that adding a column of letters ain’t so easy, is it? Without a zero a top 10 would be a top 1. Zero is what makes round numbers round: 20, 50, 100. You can’t get a rounder round number than zero. Look at it, it’s practically a circle: 0.
As in a dozen. See, twelve is so special it has a second name. There are twelve hours in the AM, and, making twelve even more specialer, another twelve hours in the PM. Twelve is the highest number you can roll with a pair of dice. Twelve is also the end of childhood, after that you’re a teenager, and we all know what hell that is for all concerned. For people not concerned in the matter for that matter. Speaking of aging by the year, one year is twelve months. Getting biblical, there are twelve disciples. Getting educational, there are twelve grades in primary schooling. Getting measuremental, there are twelve inches to the foot. Best of all, there are twelve twelves in a gross. That’s 144 for those who don’t want to do the math.
The most famous fractional number going. And going and going because the decimal part is endless. You know, 3.141592653589793…etc, ad infinitum. Pi is unique, it’s a two-fer, both a number and a letter. Ask yourself, how many other numbers have books written and movies made about them. And considering the 3.141592653589793…etc bit, you can never get enough pi.
As in binary, what makes computers possible. What makes the Interwebs possible. What makes terry colon dot com possible. That alone rates two in the top ten somewhere. Yes, binary is one and zero, no actual numeral two in there. Still, it’s two numbers. Plus, two is company, and who doesn’t like company? A tango –takes two. All the famous couples –two people. The best relief in the restroom –number two. The most popular pencil –number two. Yep, the number two is number one… Hm-m… Let’s move on.
6. One Million
The number we pull out of our, uh, hat when we want a bigger-than-everyday-life number. As in, one in a million, never in a million years, million dollar idea, million to one shot, and Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? Well, who doesn’t? Except maybe a multi-millionaire. Anyway, if you don’t think a million is a big enough number, try counting to a million starting from one. See? It’s a lot. This magical number is also an exaggeration. “I got a million of ’em.” And the beauty of it is, tack an S on the end and it’s an over-exaggeration. “Where’d these ants come from? There’s millions of ’em.”
As in the Holy Trinity. As in the three dimensional universe. Therefore, both physically and metaphysically three is everything and everything is three. How many wise men? Three. How many times is the charm? Three. How many Stooges? Three. How many Tenors? Three. How many Kingstons in a trio? Three. How many Amigos? Three. How many Marx Brothers? Five, but only three funny ones. OK, three is a crowd, but nothing is perfect otherwise the number three would be number one, which just doesn’t add up.
4. One Hundred
It’s everything, the maximum, as in 100 percent. It’s a perfect score on a test. And what’s better than a top ten list?, why the top one hundred of all time list, of course. Besides, if a ten is perfect, 100 is ten times as perfect. It’s positively the perfecter perfect number.
As in the Magnificent Seven. Or in lucky seven, which gets baby a new pair of shoes. Then there’s the seventh son of a seventh son. I think that’s a good thing. Then we have Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, a musical romp directed by Stanley Donen. Snow White and the Seven, not six or eight, Dwarfs. Also seven seas, seven wonders of the world, and seven virtues. (We’ll overlook the seven deadly sins for now.) Best of all is Seventh heaven, better than all the other heavens and so that’s gotta be good. Lastly there are seven days a week, as in seven days of creation. If seven is good enough for God it’s good enough for me.
Ten is the top rating of rating things from one to ten. Rating something a ten means it’s the best, as good as it gets, it’s perfection! All the most beautiful women are a ten. Who could ask for more? Besides, most top lists top ten lists. Look what you’re reading right now. Lastly, the Ten Commandments. Try to do better than that.
1. One, of course
It goes without saying, though I’m saying it anyway, number one is numero uno! I mean c’mon, on every top ten list one is the best. Since this is such a list, one must be number one. One’s the top slot no matter what number of items are on the list. Top ten,, top twenty, top hundred, top billion. “Woohoo! We’re number one! We’re number one!”
The magical age of adulthood. Why twenty-one? Why not? Gotta peg it somewhere, and twenty-one is three times seven (see above) so that’s something. Anyhow, most teens just can’t wait to be adults. Though after they’ve been an adult for twenty-one years they usually long to be teenagers again. Blackjack is twenty-one, that’s a winner. Unless the house gets it, that’s a loser. Then there’s the twenty-one gun salute. That’s a big honor, which unfortunately you get after you’re dead. There ain’t much more you can say in favor of the number, which explains why it didn’t make the top ten list.
The magical age of retirement when the pension kicks in and you’re on endless vacation. Well, sorta maybe. The official age for full Social Security benefits keeps going up, but private pensions start at 65. I think. Anyway, 65 is still the age we think of for retirement, so that”s what I’m using. Story goes Otto Von Bismarck picked 65 to receive a state pension because most Germans didn’t live that long back then. Whatever the case, the retire at 65 stuck in the U.S. and is largely still sticking.
© Terry Colon, 2022