Proper Math Villainy Doesn’t Require Numbers

My Mother runs a salon and spa (It’s a nice place. You would probably like it.) During the last retail week before Christmas, she buys lunch for her employees. The salon is so busy that they simply don’t have time to go out and get something to eat. For many of them, the highlight of this week is Hartville Kitchen Day.

For the past seven years, it has been my duty to pick up and deliver the food from The Hartville Kitchen. It is a local Amish restaurant. (If you are ever in Hartville, Ohio, stop in and get the strawberry pie. It’s phenomenal.) And every year I try to get into the kitchen of The Hartville Kitchen.

At first it was my own personal joke, something to do to amuse myself. Over the years, this personal joke morphed into my own private war. Like any good war, there is a villain. In this case, that villain is Sadie. I imagine Sadie as a combination of Nas and Levar Burton. (Such a thing exists:

I can never tell whether she is going to hand be a book and pull out a gun. I know she’s Amish but I’m convinced the piety is an act to sell strawberry pies. When you think about it, this is a really stupid reason to pretend to be pious. Those pies sell themselves. This makes Sadie all the more sinister.

This is a partial tale of my quest.

Part One: The Sixth Hartville Kitchen Day (12/22/2009)

I walked into the carry-out room at 11:59. I was one minute early. So I wasn’t upset when I was told that I would have to wait on the chicken. So I took a seat in front of the counter. The room hadn’t changed much since the last time I had been there. Sadie, the woman behind counter, was the only thing in the room that was showing any sign of age. Her hair now has streaks of gray, no doubt the result of twelve months of scheming. She knew I would return.

The food order is always large, so they provide me with a cart to take it out to my car. The cart is at the center of my scheme. It is how I get behind the counter. You see, you can’t just walk behind the counter and into the kitchen. That would be crazy. Having the cart gives me a reason to be behind the counter. I can claim that I am putting it back where I found it. I am only pretending to be polite.

This year, Sadie decided to do me a “favor” by pushing the cart out to my car. I see what you are doing, Sadie, keeping your enemy close.

We made chit-chat while walking out to my car. I started to panic. How am I going to push the cart into the kitchen if Sadie intends on taking it back in?

Then I got an idea! An awful idea! I got a wonderful, awful idea! I told Sadie the story of Hartville Kitchen Day. She loved it. In particular, she loved the part where I played the role of dutiful son who goes out of his way to help his mother.

The Hartville Kitchen has a reputation for being steeped in tradition, so when I told her that my favorite part of Hartville Kitchen Day was pushing the cart back into the store, she was all too willing to oblige. My plan worked. She did not know of my ulterior motive. She did not know that I was only pretending to be polite.

I grabbed the cart, strode up the ramp, and through the door. The gate to get behind the counter was wide open. I scanned the room, identifying anyone who might stand in my way.

My heart began to race with each step forward. I had been here before. I could do this.

I made it behind the counter. Sadie would surely notice me.

I made it to the entrance of the kitchen; Sadie hadn’t said anything.

I crossed the threshold- I was stopped there last year. There is no turning back now. I was going to do what needed to be done.

I kept walking. I pushed that cart right into the kitchen of The Hartville Kitchen. If I had a dagger I would have driven it into its stupid Amish heart, then promptly taken all of the strawberry pie. But I did not have a dagger, and there were no strawberry pies. That didn’t matter.

It didn’t matter that it was an unremarkable kitchen. It didn’t matter that there were no ancient Amish artifacts. It didn’t matter that Sadie was coming to escort me out of the kitchen of The Hartville Kitchen. I did it. I fucking did it. I thrust my fists into the air and laughed in triumph.

At that moment, I was the tallest tree on the highest mountain. I was the the swiftest wind sweeping the country. For five years, I maintained that little bit of hope when my back was against the ropes. In my mind, I could hear R. Kelly telling me that I was the world’s greatest.

When Sadie finally got to me I stood up tall, looked her in the face, and said: “Sadie, I’ve been waiting six years to stand here. Every year, I try to get into the kitchen and every year you manage to thwart me.”

“Well good, because that is all the further you are going to get!”

Challenge Accepted.

Part Two: The Seventh Hartville Kitchen Day (12/22/2010)

I walked into the carry out room at 11:01. They were just opening for the day. Sadie was there and she was already talking to a customer. A woman named Lisa took my order. Her name tag said “supervisor.” I wasn’t fooled. I knew Sadie was in charge.

After last year’s challenge, I had to defend my honor as a math villain. I would get into the kitchen, that wasn’t an issue. I had to do something ridiculous. I just didn’t know what it was yet.

As I paid the bill she told me that the chicken wouldn’t be ready for another ten minutes. I laughed a little as that was exactly how last year’s quest began. I even waited in the same spot. I chalked it up to coincidence and reached for my phone to help pass the time.

When I pulled it out of my pocket, two pairs of 3D glasses came with it. I looked up at Sadie and back at the glasses in my hand. Then I got an idea. An awful idea. I got a wonderful, awful idea! I was going to look at The Kitchen of The Hartville Kitchen in 3D and I would get Sadie to do it with me. I began to scheme.

I knew Sadie to be a religious woman, so I began to research parables on my telephone. I settled on the parable of the mustard seed. I knew I could spin it to suit my needs. Shortly thereafter, Lisa brought the food out on the same cart as last year. She helped me take it out to my car.

The seventh Hartville Kitchen Day continued to play out exactly like the sixth. I would be able to put my old plan into action. I would tell Lisa about the tradition of Hartville Kitchen Day and she would let me push the cart. I would walk right into The Kitchen of The Hartville Kitchen just I had did last year. With cart in hand I would use the parable of the mustard seed to complete my quest. Everything was falling into place, I was unstoppable.

As I finished loading the last of the food, I turned around to tell Lisa my story. To my horror she was almost to the door! I felt like Ralphie when he went to see Santa Claus. This was not part of the plan. I began to panic. I ran after her yelling “Lisa! Wait! Wait!” I saw a white flash out of the corner of my eye and heard a screech. Sadie was behind the wheel of a Traynor’s Police Academy car and careening toward me.

I did what any reasonable person would do in that situation. I put on my 3D glasses and got in my b-boy stance. I know when I am beaten and I was fully prepared to accept death. I would soon be with my brethren at the big linoleum roll in the sky. Windmills, track suits, and super hot b-girls awaited me.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

When I came to, I was standing in the kitchen of the Hartville Kitchen. I had my arm around someone and some old woman was holding my phone. Before I realized what was happening everyone was smiling and the old woman handed me my phone. On it was the following picture:

Sadie & a math villain, wearing 3D glasses.

Even in death, there is math-villainy.

-Joe Volzer

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