2014_10_05_06_47_50By Jay Duret

“Want to hear a realization?” I said.

My wife Marty and I were driving to New Haven from Philadelphia and the traffic had come to a dead stop on I-95. She was trying to read a thick Power Point presentation in the front seat.


“I have had an insight.”

“Jay. Not again. I thought you were giving up insights.”

“I am serious.”

“I am in the middle of this presentation…”

“Give it a rest for a minute. This could change your life.”

“I doubt it.” Marty sighed and put down the papers, “What is it?”

“Boys are fractions.”

“Oh God.”

“Seriously. They are fractions from the time they are 8 until they get to be 18 or so. Depends on the kid, but they are all fractions. Some are ¾’s, others ½, some are 7/8ths. All fractions, though.”

“Where are you going with this?”

“So when there is a task that needs doing, a boy brings his fraction to the task and either the fraction is a large enough fraction to get the task accomplished or it isn’t.”

“Powerful insight, Jay. Riveting.”

“Stay with me.”

“I am a bit of a captive audience.”

“Excellent. I love a captive audience.”

“Just carry on.”

“So when two boys get together they are now two fractions.”


“Could you stop with the mockery?”

“Just keep up the pace.”

“I would go a lot faster if you weren’t already japing at my theory.”

Japing? Is that what I am doing?”

“You are japing at my hypothesis.”

“So that is what it is now, a hypothesis. I had it more as….”

“Quiet, or you’ll miss the insight…”

“… a rambling rumination.”

“So when two boys get together and they have a task to confront you’d imagine that what I would say is…”

“…actually I can’t imagine what you are going to say…”

“…that you’d take each of their factions and add them together and then the combination would either be bigger than the task or not. That’s what you thought I would say, but that would be wrong.”

“On so many levels.”

“That would be how it would be if it was two girls, assuming girls were fractions at all.”

“But you are going to say that with boys, its not.”

“Correcto. Muy bien, mi esposa bonita. It is multiplication. That’s the mathematics of it.

“Not addition.”



“Cause when you add things you get more, but with boys you get less.”

“And I am sure you are going to explain that…”

“So it’s just like if you are multiplying fractions, you always get less than you start with. Like a ½ times a ¼ is an 1/8th. It’s always less. And what’s so beautiful about the math is that it works with any number of boys. It just keeps getting less as you get more of them. You take a ½ and a ¼ and then a third boy shows up and he could be a ¾’s on his own, but when you multiply him into a full three boy equation, you no longer even have an 1/8th – you have got yourself ¾’s of an 1/8th which is … which is … less than an 1/8th.”

“Did you actually say ‘a full three boy equation’.”

“I did indeed.”

“It takes the breath away. It is flat out amazing, Jay, how you can take a modest insight and turn it into, well, a really small insight.”

“Jealousy doesn’t become you, my dear. I believe I nailed that one.”

“I will erect a statue.”

“That would be fine. Just don’t get boys to build it.”

– Jay Duret


Jay Duret is a San Francisco based writer and illustrator. Second Wind published his first novel, Nine Digits, in December. To view the book trailer, click here


Filed under fiction, Humor, Mike Simpson, musings, writing

2 responses to “Fractions

  1. My grandfather Webb was a farmer who had 10 sons. He used to say, “One boy is one helper. Two boys is half a helper. Three boys is no help at all.” I guess he had a pretty good grasp on the whole fraction idea seventy-five years ago.”

  2. dellanioakes

    As the mother of three boys, I have to agree with this summation. Trying to get them to accomplish a full task is proportionally more difficult depending upon the level of the task and the number of boys involved. Add (or subtract) my husband and it becomes a chaotic jumble of sums that would need a super computer to keep up. Loved this!

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