Alexandria Jones and the Eighty-Yard Drive

[Photo by West Point Public Affairs.]

Alexandria Jones pulled the last sheet of chocolate chip cookies from the oven and inhaled deeply. Mmm! Perfect. And just in time — Mom was calling her to the car. She slid the cookies into a plastic bowl but left the lid off so the steam could escape. The Jones family was going to meet Uncle Will and Alex’s cousin Sam for a tail-gate picnic before the big football game.

The MIT Mathmen

It was the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and the MIT Mathmen were facing their traditional rivals, the St. Louis Sophists.

[MIT is that well-known and respected Midwestern university, the Mathematics Institute of Technology, where Alex’s father works as professor of archeology — as Dr. Jones says, “Not to be confused with some podunk Eastern school that just happens to use the same initials.”]

In a hard-fought game, the lead bounced back and forth between the teams like the ups and downs of a sine wave. Alex and her family cheered as the Mathmen recovered a fumble late in the fourth quarter. Down by two, the Mathmen had one last chance to score. They needed at least a field goal to win the game.

And the Time Has Come

Suddenly, Alex’s mother sat down and said, “Oh!”

Dr. Jones looked at his wife. “Maria, are you all right?”

She gripped his arm. “I think it’s time,” she said. “Babies have their own schedules, you know.”

As Dr. and Mrs. Jones threaded their way through the crowd to leave, Alex’s brother Leon complained, “This baby was supposed to be born on Christmas, wasn’t he?”

“No. She was due in mid-December,” Alex said. “Besides, Mom says no baby ever comes when you expect it.”

Uncle Will laughed. “Are you two still arguing over whether it’s a boy or girl? Looks like you’ll find out soon enough.”

To Be Continued…

Read all the posts from the November/December 1999 issue of my Mathematical Adventures of Alexandria Jones newsletter.

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