Oodles Of Noodles
(The Romance Of Zero And One)
In the beginning
there was only one number.
His name was One.
Your only chum if you needed a number.
But he often fell short
counting cherries in pie
or the stars in the sky.
One just wasn’t enough.
Because oodles of noodles
stacked all around
needed counting, they found.
Like piles of green peas,
like zillions of fleas,
like ants and cucumbers.
There just weren’t enough numbers!
Take the Children of Israel
(as yet unborn).
Six hundred thousand ringed that mountain.
They would need lots of counting.
But far behind the blinking stars
in the hidden land
where the Angels are,
two through nine went round and round
in the mind of the Lord profound.
Waltzing in orbit like his planets in space,
guided by laws mathematically lovely
waiting, waiting for the day of discovery.
Bored and hugely unemployed,
they counted the passing asteroids.
What could they do more?
That’s what numbers are for.
Then the Lord looked down
on piles of green peas
and dogs full of fleas.
A lot more than a few.
He knew what to do.
“From my mind to the mind of mankind,” He said.
And He threw down the numbers like dew.
So down below, somebody clever
finally found Two.
but still not quite right
for raisins in Kugel, walnuts in strudel
and carrots in tsimmus and stew.
Sure, Two would do for Adam and Eve,
but wouldn’t work at all
for Eden’s leaves
that fell off the trees
in the Fall.
Next, a curious fellow,
we don’t know his name,
said, “You know, it’s a shame
we don’t have a name for things more than two.
All we can say is it’s two plus a few”.
Two fish in the sea?
Two stars in the sky?
Two cherries in pie?
How silly you’d be.
We needed a three!
Everyone knew some numbers were missing.
Were they high in the sky,
deep under the earth?
Could you find them by digging?
And how could we talk of Noah’s boat
full of humans and beasts
yet still afloat?
How could we tell that ancient story
when forty was not even born?
So, Lo and Behold, Three was discovered.
“Whee! it’s me,” said 3, when uncovered.
Then 4 and 5 and 6 and 7.
Then 8 and 9, too.
Sisters and brothers for One and for Two.
Great! Now you could tell your friends next door
that Jacob’s wives were a fabulous four
and how many sons were born to the family.
(With accuracy you could not shine,
remember you could only say nine.)
And how many babies came out of his goats.
Great numbers for things you could see.
So, all was well for a little while.
They counted the goatlings out of the nanny.
But one day NO kids came out of the nanny
and here's what’s uncanny:
That very next day from the heavenly spheres
ZERO dropped down from the stratosphere
to help us with goatlings that NEVER appeared.
Everyone smiled at the number so new.
“Let’s give a party,” said One and said Two.
“Zero’s a hero,” said Seven and Eight,
“hey, let’s celebrate”.
Well, their party was cool
and, as usual, they followed their rule:
they all stood in line.
First there was One, last there was Nine.
At all of their parties
that’s what you’d find.
Strictly in order
One right through Nine.
But One noticed Zero sitting alone.
Shiny and shy, like a halo she shone.
She was curvy and round.
“What a find I have found,”
said One as he walked to her side.
“Hey, this smiling newcomer
she’s my cup of tea
and I bet she and me
could count this whole world
from ants to cucumbers.”
It was love at first sight.
That’s what happened that night
when One stood beside
sweet Zero, his bride!
Oh, he’s tall and real straight,
thought Zero, his mate.
He’s come down from heaven,
not top heavy like nine.
He’s not crooked like Seven
or lumpy like Eight.
Not ragged like Four,
who looked like a pot.
She liked One a lot.
“And I’m nothing alone,
but then, when I stand next to One
I’m a TEN! WHEEEEEE!
Exuberantly, they danced cross the floor.
“We’ll make minyons galore,”
Ten was singing with glee.
“Look,” said Four, “he’s made a new number.
She’s a Ten - she’s a stunner.”
But Two was pea green - always jealous of One.
“Hey, One’s out of line, look what he’s done.”
“He’s broken our family rules, don’t you see.
He’s way out of order.”
Who wouldn’t agree?
Poor One was BESIDE HIMSELF, as we say.
Two’s cruel tease had ruined his day.
“Oh my gosh” said Three,
“now he’s made ELEVEN, don’t you see.”
“OK, watch this,” shouted One to his friends.
And he stood by Three
thereby making Thirteen.
By this one and that one
till he got to Nineteen.
But he wouldn’t come near jealous old Two.
Who would? Would you?
(Twelve came later, like a visiting cousin,
when they needed a number for
buns in a dozen.)
And 12 is a number you’d have to make up
when you wanted to number
the tribes of Jacob.
“OK,” said Two, “if that’s your game.”
And she moved down the line exactly the same!
With a joyous roar, she made many new numbers.
Then all the family joined right in.
Mixing and mingling with all of their kin.
6, 1, and 3 did a doh si doh.
They made 613.
And all of you know,
that numbers the Mitzvahs here below.
They didn’t stop till they had uncovered
all of the numbers that waited to number
the oodles of everything from ants to cucumbers.
And all of the notes of all of the songs
that mankind sang in gratitude
for heaven’s great gift - the gift of numbers.
The Lord smiled a long sweet smile.
His children had finished chapter one.
Miles and miles away from Eden
they had come a long way from none.
We should be happy that One fell in love
and found the new numbers from Heaven above.
‘Cause now we count whatever we please;
fish in the sea and the leaves on the trees.
“Thanks Zero - Thanks One,”
said oodles of everything under the sun.