The Bumbastories March Through the Numbers marches on as we enter February, the second month. Even though there are an infinite number of numbers, we express all of those numbers with just nine numerals and a zero. Not a bad system. Anyhoo, let’s look at the two… Drumroll…….The Two!
The two – the dos, the deux, the zvei – is the first real number, because one isn’t really a number. One is unity. One encompasses all the numbers, it’s everything, it’s not a real number. But when you get to the two, hey, now you’re starting to count.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Life as we know it began when the first organism split in two. The fundamental process of mitosis enables cells to grow. The cells of our body are reproducing all the time.
Two is the first prime number! It is also the first even number! In fact the two generates all the odds and evens. Numbers are either 2n or 2n +1.
The symmetry of the two, bilateral symmetry, is basic to all chordates, arthropods, i.e. all us more “advanced” animals. Unlike sponges and jellyfish, we have a left and a right. Bilateral symmetry also forces you to think about a front and a back. Later on in the evolutionary story we, that’s us humans, even get to “think” about things like “going forward” and “making progress”. Bilateral symmetry is important, especially for all the centipedes and millipedes out there.
The yin and yang, the dialectic, the dynamism of the two is how the world operates, and how we see things as happening. We discriminate between figure and ground; things are either there, or they ain’t. Two is how it is, my friend.
It takes two to tango. The dance, the interplay – and I’m trying to keep this clean – of the sexes, is the greatest game in town. Meiosis and sexual reproduction has accelerated the pace of evolution, which some may regret, but that’s how it is. The Good Lord put two of every animal on Noah’s ark. The ark, by the way used port and starboard, fore and aft, and also used a lot of mops and pails.
So many things come in pairs. How many can you think of? Personally, I can think of franks and beans, corned beef and cabbage, wine and roses, and burgers and fries. Not to mention peanut butter and jelly. In baseball 2nd base is right there in the middle, and a double is a very good hit.
As for the two in our language, there are just too many twos to mention. And please, don’t mention the ballerina’s tutu.
Before we get sentimental about the two, let’s remember that to “speak with a forked tongue” is not a cool thing. Neither are “snake eyes”, second-in-command, or Bi-Polar disorder. To quote Joe E. Brown at the end of Some Like It Hot, “Well, nobody’s perfect”. Neither is the two. It is also incumbent upon me to remind you that “number two” is the well-known toilet euphemism for, well …I won’t waste any more of your time. Except to remind you that 2 is the atomic number of helium, and that Hank Williams said “If you loved me half as much as I love you, you wouldn’t worry me half as much as you do….”Click to twice to hear