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Darrell Huckaby: Sometimes it's all in the numbers

Darrell Huckaby

Darrell Huckaby

I was reading about Elvis last week -- I know he's been dead since 1977, but I can still read about him can't I?

According to the article I was reading, Elvis was big into numerology. One of his favorite books, supposedly, was "Cheiro's Book of Numbers," which was said to explain the occult significance between numbers and human events.

Now I don't believe in any of that, but there have always been certain numbers that have held great meaning for me. Lots of us have favorite numbers, don't you know.

Three is a good one. I have three children and that has worked out pretty well so far. Three is the number of the Trinity, too. "The three men I admire the most--the Father, Son and Holy Ghost -- they took the first train for the coast . . ."

The great Babe Ruth wore number 3. One of my favorite baseball stories is the one Jim Bouton tells about reporting to spring training for his rookie season with the Yankees. Unhappy with the astronomically high number he was given, he asked for a lower one. Told that his 66, or whatever number he'd been given, was the lowest available, Bouton replied, "I didn't see anybody wearing number 3 out there."

Gotta love his brass.

Seven has always been one of my favorite numbers, too. Unlike Seinfeld's George Costanza, I never wanted to name one of my kids 7, but Mickey Mantle did wear it and Mickey Mantle was my hero.

Of course we can't talk about uniform numbers without mentioning 34, which is the Holy Grail for those of the red and black persuasion. If I ever have to choose a number between one and a hundred -- or infinity -- you can bet your bippy I am picking 34. And if I ever have an occasion to play roulette -- which I've yet to do in my first 60 years on the planet -- I will put whatever money I have to lose -- which won't be much -- on 34 and let it ride.

They say that confession is good for the soul and my soul can always use a boost so I will make a confession that will make me look really silly in the eyes of many. When I am able, I like to swim for exercise. A couple of summers ago I was swimming a mile every day. Jack Bauerle would have been proud.

At my home pool a mile is a little more than 34 laps -- see how numbers connect? -- and let's face it, after a few laps the numbers start running together. Did I just finish 10 laps or did I just finish 12? To keep up with my laps I would assign the number of one of my favorite athletes to each lap. When I finished lap three I would say to myself, "Babe Ruth." When I finished lap 19 I would say "Johnny Unitas" and when I finished lap 24 I would say "Willie Mays." When I got to Herschel I was done. Laugh if you will, but it worked.

Not all significant numbers in my life are jersey numbers, of course. 412 used to be a big one because it was the number of our mailbox at the Porterdale Post Office. For years my address was P.O. Box 412, Porterdale. Ironically, when I moved into the now defunct McWhorter Hall at UGA my room number was 412 and my mailing address became Box 412, McWhorter Hall, Athens.

Elvis might have been on to something, come to think of it.

One hundred twenty-nine has been a special number since that night in 1967 when Wills High School beat the Newton Rams, ending our world record home court basketball winning streak at 129. My mind recognizes that number wherever it appears. There can be clocks everywhere and I will never notice if it is 2:10 or 3:47 or 1:19 -- but when that sucker hits 1:29, my eyes will take notice.

7060 is another significant number in my life because that was my parents' phone number for four decades -- with various prefixes and area codes added as the years went by and the phone company grew. 1218 stands out, too, because it is my anniversary. I didn't know what happiness was until I got married. Then it was too late.

I told you all of that to tell you this. I have a brand new favorite number and I think it will remain my favorite number for a long, long time.

That number is 0, y'all, and not because some ball player wears it on his uniform. Zero is the level of Prostate-specific antigen the doctors at MD Anderson found in my blood last week. That is significant because for the past 15 months -- through surgery and radiation and all sorts of horrible medications, my PSA had been rising, exponentially, with each and every blood test.

My doctor said he has no explanation for the sudden extreme drop to "non-detectable."

But I do y'all. I do. Thanks -- and please keep them coming.

Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.