Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Angel-one, angel-two

Until around about 1996, I had counted seconds the usual way by saying "thousand-one, thousand-two," etc. But in 1996 (or thereabouts), when I was an active Toastmaster and working towards becoming a professional speaker (i.e., paid big bucks to deliver keynote addresses and entertain and motivate people from a stage), I got the idea of a sort of "trademark" for my speeches. I would suggest that people in the audience count "angel-one, angel-two" instead of the usual way, thereby reminding themselves that they had a guardian angel looking over them, guiding them, protecting them, and so on. A sort of touchstone, in other words, that everything was going to be okay, they had an ally when the going got rough. Supportive stuff.

In those days I was reading a book by Rupert Sheldrake, an English biochemist, plant physiologist (and, perhaps, pataphysicist1): The Physics of Angels: Exploring the Realm Where Science and Spirit Meet (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996).
    The fact that I was then trying to find a scientific foundation for things spiritual may have been the major reason that about ten years later I abandoned believing (or attempting to believe) in angels (and gods).
    But I still, from force of habit, count "angel-one, angel-two," and I do so even though I've made some effort (admittedly half-hearted) to switch over to "Darwin-one, Darwin-two."

I've decided I don't mind. It is a fact of my life that I need to honor that for many years I believed in angels (or, at any rate, tried to do so). And counting "angel-one, angel-two" always reminds me of another fact I honor more: I concluded that there aren't any angels (or any other supernatural beings) to believe in.
  1. Or pataphysician; see comments on "A most extraordinary mathematical proof."


  1. I've heard of one-mississippi, two-mississippi, but angel-one, angel-two, is a new one.

  2. And I'd never heard of one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi. Do some people you know really count seconds that way? "Mississippi" has so many syllables, I'd think there'd be quite an art to saying them fast enough to cram into a single second. Of course, if it's Southerners who count that way, they'd probably pronounce it "one-Mis-sip, two-Mis-sip"?
        I'm a little encouraged, though, that you'd never heard of angel-one, angel-two, which might indicate that it could indeed have been a trademarkable feature of my erstwhile but otherwise fabulous speaking career.
        By the way: <chortle>

  3. Also, I noted the different placement of "one" and "two" in your one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi (before "Mississippi" rather than after). I have noticed that in the "usual" way of counting with "thousand," many other people say "one-thousand, two-thousand" rather than "thousand-one, thousand-two," as was my own practice. Is it more "standard," do you think, to put the number in front of whatever filler word is used than after it?

  4. I used the thousand method, but like this. One thousand-one, one thousand-two, etc. Perhaps my time is slower or I said it faster (grin).

  5. You sly dog, Steve, having the filler word both before and after a number!
        But you're right about there being enough time. When I say "angel-one," I throw a little hesitation in there to round out the second of time! "angel-o-ne, angel-tw-o, angel-th-ree..."
        And maybe "one-Mississippi" would work just fine, even in the mouth of a Yankee!