Today the Krulwich Wonders blog on the NPR website turned me on to this great study being done by Alex Bellos. He’s asking you, me, and the rest of the world to submit our favorite number and the reasons why. He wants to find out what the world’s all time favorite number is, and see what sorts of patterns show up. Here is my submission, s0mewhat expanded for your enjoyment:
As far back as I can remember, I’ve been drawn to 3, threes, and trilogies. Three is the tie-breaker. Its two happy parents and their first child. You can’t say three without smiling. Three day weekends are great. No surprise that Three Amigos is one of my all time favorite movies.
As a kid, I loved the Star Wars trilogy. There really didn’t need to be any prequels, the series was pretty darned perfect as a trilogy. Book trilogies work well too. Despite the fact that I’m a grown professional woman, last year I devoured Susanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. The Twilight saga really didn’t do it for me though. Would I have enjoyed it more if the story were compressed into a trilogy? I doubt it, but I guess we’ll never know.
I tend to group things in threes. Plants in my yard look best in threes. When I’m sewing, knitting or otherwise crafting I also tend to group things in threes. Stripes, flowers, buttons, shapes, etc. Not so much with multiples of 3 though. Once you start multiplying its to easy to break a grouping into regimented rows and columns (6=2 rows of 3, 9=3 rows of 3, etc). I like that you can’t do that with a group of 3.
My favorite architectural details are those that involve groups of three. I love the trefoils in the upper portions of cathedral windows. Chicago windows (a large fixed window with a double hung window on either side) are traditional and modern, in the tradition of early 20th Century Modernism, that is. Clay pipe vents in the gable of a Spanish style house should always be grouped in threes, in my opinion.
Visually 3 is a great little number. It just sits there looking cute. Flip it over and you’ve got yourself a capital cursive E. One quarter turn clockwise gets you a pair of slightly lopsided breasts. You can make it stately and elegant, classic and refined, or swirly and girly.
I’m not blinded by three’s loveliness though, I know it isn’t perfect. While it has many laudable characteristics, there are some situations where three is not ideal. I’m happy with a pair of eyes, no need for a third, thank you. Relationships? Three causes trouble, and no threesomes for me. And while I sometimes feel like I could use a third arm, I should probably just ask for help carrying in the groceries or make two trips.
I turned 33 this year, and so far its been a pretty good year. Numerically, I guess its going to be the best I’ll get in this lifetime. 66 will also be pretty good, hopefully. And God willing, I will live to see 99.