I was working in the mathematics research library at the University of Washington trying to prove the Riemann conjecture when a poke in the back from what felt like the pointy end of a freshly sharpened pencil made me jump out of my seat. I let out a high pitched girlish scream.
“Wow, you are jumpy,” a woman’s voice behind me said. “Sorry about that, I just had a manicure. I had a feeling you could use my help.”
For a moment I thought she was a mathematician offering to help with my calculations. I realized my error when I turned to find a beautiful woman in her late 30’s dressed in skin tight jeans and a tank top that stopped a few inches shy of her belly button. Not that a woman mathematician can’t be beautiful or walk around with a bare midriff, but the empirical probability is low.
Her long, lovely brunette hair cascading down about her D-cupped breasts looked freshly washed and professionally cut with no discernible split ends. It shone with an almost ethereal radiance and so did she. Perhaps I wax too rhapsodic, but let it stand. Her beauty was diminished by an overly high forehead and a slight asymmetry of her nose, but that hair, those eyes, that smile — witchcraft!
“ I’m Hannah,” she said, handing me her business card. “Hannah Rabinowitz, Love Coach at your service.” She spoke with a nasal twang in a fading Brooklyn accent. “By the way,” she said, “does my face look red? I just had a laser peel and I think they turned it up too high.”
“I don’t need a love coach.I’m married,” I said.
“I also do life coaching. Do you mind if I sit with you?” Without waiting for an answer, she pulled up a chair and sat uncomfortably close to me. Her voice was very loud. Some people looked up from their books. I backed away to put some distance between me and that voice, but there was no escaping it. As I moved away, she moved in closer – so close that I could feel the heat emanating from her body and smell the slightest hint of, was it perfume, or just her?
“I don’t need a life coach either,” I said.
“Then how about a caterer? From bar or bat mitzvah’s to intimate dinners for two — no event is too big or too small. I can, of course, also provide the woman for the intimate dinners,” she said with a wink.
“Oh, are you in THAT business too?”
“Yes, matchmaking comes with the love coach package. Wait, did you think I’m some kind of …? Oh my God.” She punched me in the chest.
“Ouch!” I said.
“Oh don’t be a sissy. I don’t think I want to take you on as a client if you think such dirty thoughts about me.”
“That’s fine with me,” I said. “What are you doing in a math research library? Why don’t you try a bar or coffeeshop?”
“Nerds are more likely to need my services and where can you find more nerds than in a math library?”
“Thanks a lot,” I said.
“Don’t be offended. Nerds are sexy now. Math is sexy.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Ya, well that’s why you need me.”
“I told you I don’t need a love coach,” I said.
“Maybe not now, but I foresee a future in which you will ,” she said.
“You’re love coach, a life coach, a caterer AND a psychic too?” I said. “I’m sorry but I have to get back to work now.”
“Okay, okay,” she said, “but keep my card handy.”
“I will not be needing your services and I’m not going to call you,” I said.
“Okay, talk to you later,” she said. She walked away and suddenly turned to catch me staring at her. She looked at me intently and mouthed the words:“Call me.” Then she held out her arms towards me and wriggled her fingers as if to hypnotize me into obeying her command.
I mouthed the words: “No way!” and clenching my fists, I crossed my arms before me as if to ward off her evil spells. She smiled and walked to a carrel occupied by a fat pimply grad student in sweat pants. She tapped him on the back and he jumped out of his seat knocking his books to the floor. Hannah Rabinowitz laughed and handed him her card. He looked scared.I could have been a contender, studying for a PhD in mathematics at the University of Washington, but I washed out and now I’m a bum. Sure I have a high paying job with a data analytics firm trying to create mathematical models of consumer buying behavior, but in my eyes I’m still a bum without a PhD.
But I still like to keep my hand in math, real math. Evenings and weekends I hang out in the mathematics research library trying to prove the Riemann conjecture. There’s a million dollar prize from the Clay Institute for anyone who comes up with a proof. But more important than the money is the mathematical fame and glory. If I prove the Riemann conjecture I will certainly have done enough to get a PhD and then I can go back to academia. I guess I’m like Einstein. I long to escape from the concerns of the merely personal into the world of objective perception and thought, into the world of “der reinen Vernunft”, the world of pure reason.
I tried to get back to work, but I could not get Hannah Rabinowitz and her ominous prediction out of my mind. After a couple of hours I gave up. I wasn’t getting anywhere. I packed up and headed for home. Hannah was long gone. As I was leaving I felt a tap on my shoulder. I thought it was Hannah.