One is the loneliest number. Two’s company and three’s a crowd. A trio of sixes scares people and then you have lucky seven. But what about 10?
Well, Sunday marks its big day: 10/10/10.
It’s fairly easy to imagine a world without figures such as 130, 2,694 or even the digit 8, which, really, is nobody’s favorite unless you’re a diehard fan of Yogi Berra, Carl Yastrzemski or Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett, who hit a measly .254 this season. But life minus 10, that’s just unfathomable. Fingers, toes, bowling pins — 10 is everywhere!
A natural beauty of a number. The darling of the decimal numeral system. It’s so user-friendly even most math-deficient journalists can multiply and divide by powers of 10. Lose 10, and math would rocket from mildly frustrating to a form of torture akin to having your toenails removed with rusty pliers by a raging Mel Gibson.
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The number nicely wedged between nine and 11 has been an integral player in popular culture since the days of Moses. Those Ten Commandments really shook up society. Still do. Many of us struggle with at least some of them on a daily basis. Not desiring your neighbor’s donkey is a breeze, sure, but coveting his house can occasionally be a bit more problematic. Same goes for keeping the Sabbath holy. Especially during football season. Let’s just be glad God liked to cap His list at 10 as much as Letterman and the rest of us listicle junkies do.
A speedy Google search reveals serious Top 10 fandom. You have TopTenz.com offering enticing time-drains like “Top 10 Proms Gone Wrong,” “Top 10 Zombie Parasites” and “Top 10 Late Night Infomercials.” Elsewhere online you’ll find fun fluff like “Top 10 Reasons You Should Quit Facebook,” “Top 10 Ways to Destroy Earth,” and “The Top 10 Most Fascinating Urinals.”
Finally, let’s not forget the most famous and formidable of them all, “FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives,” which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, making Osama bin Laden practically a charter member. And while we’re on the subject of government agencies putting our beloved number to good use, how cool is it that the man whose face graces the $10 bill — Alexander Hamilton — died in a good old-fashioned pistol duel. With sitting Vice President Aaron Burr. In public. While people watched. Those Founding Fathers. Quite a bunch.
The number doesn’t play too prominently in music. But perhaps one of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 10 violin sonatas played through Vice President Burr’s head prior to him pulling the trigger and mortally wounding Hamilton. And contemporary audiences could find inspiration in pretty much any track off Pearl Jam’s masterful “Ten.” Released in 1991, it easily ranks as one of the great rock records of recent decades.
Hollywood spotlighted the number, too, with the superb 1979 Blake Edwards film “10.” The influential rom-com stars the diminutive, adorable cad Dudley Moore, a totally non-Mary Poppins Julie Andrews and the strangely beautiful Bo Derek, who somehow managed to rock those beaded cornrows into icon status. The term “she’s a 10” has become a sexist clunker, but don’t let that stop you from Netflixing the film — it’s almost as alluring as its namesake.
So one remains the loner. Two’s a pair and nobody wants to be a third wheel. Six is frightening, it morphs into a triplet, and seven seems to make everyone smile — even though there’s no proof it has ever been a true harbinger of good fortune. But 10?
The linchpin of math, a most-commanding religious document, cash with the coolest back-story, awesomely worthless lists, a trendsetting film and a highly influential rock record make 10 the mightiest number of ’em all.
At least for today, its triumphant trifecta, 10/10/10.
Wade Tatangelo, features reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7057. Follow him on Twitter at @accentbradenton.