Why I Gave Up on Math and Began My Big Fat Writing Career

by Jerry Ratch

I'd met this crowd of drunken poets from San Francisco

Even though this was smack dab in the middle of winter

Smack dab in the middle of the flattened Illinois plains

Why they all left San Francisco I'll never completely understand

But there we were. And there was I

In my math class at 8 a.m. and at every question

While me and a few other stragglers from last night's drunken party

Sat at the rear of the lecture hall trying our best to avoid direct eye contact

With our math professor, at every question six hands shot up into the air

And kept waving in his face from the six brilliant, wide awake Chinese students

Sitting upright in their hard wooden seats in the very front row of the class

Six hands, I say, shot up at every damn one of those questions. This was, I repeat,

8 a.m. every morning, on the plains of Illinois.

And I took a good long look into the face of our math professor,

And I remember thinking: “There, in a number of years, and not all that many,

Go I, myself.”

And that was the end of my career in math

My immanent rendezvous with Steve Jobs at Apple, and with Mr. Microsoft,

Whom I was until then destined to become

And then I took up my pen, and this selfsame career right here,

With words. And what a boon to society it has been!