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The Number of the Beast -- Writer's Poke #239

This scummy kid walked out of the bathroom, and the first thing I noticed about him was his earring. In 1987, not too many guys wore earrings at my junior high. His was an inverted cross, and I remember wondering why anyone would want to wear an inverted cross. To my mind at the time, that was a symbol of Satan, and I couldn't understand why anyone would want to join the losing team.

Later that year, I found myself doodling the number 666 on one of my notebooks. When my dad saw the notebook on the kitchen table that night, he nicely recommended that I scratch out that number and not ever doodle it again. Why? I asked. How can that number have any meaning? Surely the devil doesn't really have a "human number." But Dad explained that it wasn't the number that mattered so much as how other people would perceive the owner of the notebook.

Somewhere between seeing that boy coming out of the bathroom and doodling 666 on my notebook, I had decided that other people's perceptions shouldn't make any difference. We can get hung up on the silliest of things, and allowing an inverted cross, a number, or anything else to shock us isn't rational. A number cannot be evil.

Some people actually believe that the devil's number is 666, and maybe you're one of them. If so, do you also believe that the number 13 brings bad luck?

Why do some people outgrow some beliefs and not others?

"Well, if I called the wrong number, why did you answer the phone?" -- James Thurber


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