Three by J J Dare

Three is a nervous number. It’s not part of a pair nor is it part of two couples. Three is that in-between number sitting at the table twiddling its thumbs awkwardly while trying not to feel the odd man out.

Three makes everyone around a little uneasy. Sometimes it’s a good uneasy but in my life I see three with a bit of trepidation. For instance, my two youngest daughters and I each have the same make and model car (three of the same type of automobile). In the past year, major and minor things have gone wrong with each of our vehicles. Occasionally we’ll conference and see who has the most reliable car of the moment when one of us needs a trustworthy mode of transportation other than bicycle, foot or hoof.

A trio of bank robbers is scarier than a pair. On the flip side, a trio of policemen rescuing you from a trio of bank robbers is more comforting than just two officers. Your odds of getting out alive go up with more than a pair of heroes.

Lunching with friends can be awkward when you have to divide your attention between two instead of having a conversation one-on-one. In the back of your mind you’re constantly weighing how much attention you give to each friend.

The same thing applies when you have three children. I live that life and strive to equally parent my three girls. Of course, the running joke between the three now-adults is that one of them is, and has always been, my favorite. Which one depends on who is talking at the time. I let them have that illusion since we all know the cats are really my favorites.

The Real Slim Shady Favorite

When I write, three eventually has to be changed to more or less. I can’t have a trio of heroes or a trio of villains. Can you imagine the in-fighting with three John Waynes or three Hannibal Lecters? Hannibal One: “If you don’t let me talk succinctly, I’ll fry your brain with a little cilantro.” Hannibal Two: “Cilantro? With brain? Or you mad? Brain requires thyme and rosemary to bring out the flavor.” Hannibal Three: “You idiots are crazy. I’ll deep-fry you both.”

On the other hand, three is not the loneliest number. One has that distinction. Three can be a party or a terror. At the age of three, it’s definitely a terror – ask any parent. Three friends hiking in the Smokies is better than two when chased by a bear – you have two more chances to get away rather than only one.

Most of my characters are loners. Even when they pair up, eventually they will be unpaired. Trios in my writing are infrequent because of the awkwardness and because of my own neuorsis about treating everyone fairly. Although I can do that in real life with my family, I can’t do it with three characters vying for the same amount of attention on paper.

Awkward Three. How I avoid thee. I’d rather deal with Superstitious Six.



J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and triple digit works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

Facebook addiction


Filed under writing

5 responses to “Three by J J Dare

  1. Of course two can be as bad as one. It’s the loneliest number since the number one.

  2. On the other hand, three is a magical number when it comes to writing. (And hey! I’d love to see you write a story with three Hannibal Lectors. That bit was hilarious!) For example, one of the best plot lines is The Three Bears. The first time the hero tries to reach her goal, she fails but learns the risks. The second time she tries, she confirms that she’s doing things wrong, but she learns from her mistakes. The third time she tries, she gets it right.

    Three is a powerful number that satisfies our deepest needs for symmetry. Three gods ruled the earth—Zeus, the god of heaven; Poseidon, the god of the sea; and Pluto, the god of the underworld. People worshipped the moon goddess as a triad, representing three phases of the moon. There were three Fates, three Furies, three Graces, three Harpies, three primary colors. Three times three was also a mystical number, hence the nine muses.

    Think of all the threes in our culture: Three wishes. Three bears. Three little pigs. The Three Stooges. Three outs. Best two out of three. Three Faces of Eve. Three Days of the Condor. The Three Musketeers. Third time lucky. Love triangle. (The triangle itself is a divine symbol signifying the power of three.) Three is also a visually pleasing arrangement. And the number three signifies harmony.

    Now do you feel better about three?

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