Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Magic Number

First and foremost, I'd like to thank all of you for coming here tonight. When I sent out the e-vites, I was sure that I'd get quite a response – but I'm so thrilled that nearly five hundred of you came out to this parking lot on such a cold night. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It warms my heart to know that even in this electronic age, that so many people – many of you strangers to each other – are all so willing to meet up in order to find the definitive answer to one of life's oldest questions.

Now before I get too caught up in my own ego, I know we're not exactly curing cancer here. Regardless, I think that our findings here tonight will put an end to decades of speculation. Years from now, March 23, 2004 will be remembered as the night that they – and in this case, “they” is us, you, me, all of us – the night that they finally figured out EXACTLY how many Arby's roast beef sandwiches can fit inside Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Skating Rink.

I know that this project will come to fruition through a significant financial cost to all involved. Obviously it's not a coincidence that this was planned concurrently with Arby's new “40 roast beef sandwiches for six dollars” ad campaign. I figure between the lot of us, it shouldn't cost more than a few hundred bucks each to get this done. Now, before we get started here, I'm sure you've all got a few questions. Please, raise your hands and when I call on you, state your name so that we can all get acquainted. Yes, you – sir. In the green knit hat. Your name and your question?

--- Uh, yeah. Well, my name is Chip Dipson. My question is this: are we planning on filling the entire rink with delicious Arby's roast beef sandwiches, or do you have a plan to say, cover the entire floor with them, and figure out exactly how tall the rink is at its highest point and do some calculations?

Excellent question, Chip. And quite a name, I must say. Well, you've nailed it on the head. We're going to cover the entire surface of the floor with sandwiches, and then yes, we'll stack the sandwiches from center ice to the ceiling. It shouldn't take much more than a basic understanding of geometry and algebra to puzzle out the rest. Next question? You, miss, in the partially-charred ski parka.

--- Hi there! Soooo, I'm Megan O'Halloran, and I was wondering what, exactly, we plan to do after getting the sandwiches in there? Are we planning on eating them? Or donating them to charity or something? Maybe transport them to a nearby soup kitchen?

Good question, little lady. Most of the sandwiches we'll be using will end up being more or less inedible, due to the buns soaking up the water from the ice. The remaining sandwiches will be auctioned off for charity, with all proceeds going to Arby's House. A couple more before we get started. Yes, sir. You appear to be an albino. Your question?

--- Well, first of all, yes. I'm an albino. Second, my name is Alabaster Stitz, and I'd like to know if we plan on using the sandwiches as they're given to us, or if we plan on unwrapping each sandwich before adding them to the count.

Another good question! Well, Mr. Stitz, we're going to be unwrapping each of the sandwiches. You'd think that those wrappers wouldn't make much of a difference, but they'll add up and alter our calculations. After we're done, I plan to take the collection of wrappers and auction them off for charity, with all proceeds going to Arby's House. Last one before we begin. You, in the stripey shirt.

--- Hello, my name is Jean-Claude Impormable. I had one question, but I think I have another now. First, what happens if the police arrive? How do you plan on dealing with the long arm of the law? My second question is, well, what exactly is Arby's House? I've never heard of such a charity.

Two good questions. I'll answer them in reverse order. You ever heard of Ronald McDonald House? Well, Arby's House is very similar. They're devoted to making sure that the less privileged children of North America have access to roast beef sandwiches. And second, how easy do you think it'll be to get Johnny Law off our backs when we offer them delicious Arby's roast beef sandwiches in exchange for turning a blind eye on tonight's activities? Now without further ado, let's get to it!

~SIX HOURS LATER~

Phew! I can't believe we did it, guys! Things were a bit touch-and-go in a few parts, but damned if we didn't get all those sandwiches in there! Now before we gather up the remaining edible sandwiches and the thousands of wrappers to be auctioned for charity, I'd like to give thanks where thanks are due. First, of course, to our main engineer, Professor Dip Dobson. Without your efforts, I'm certain we'd never have been able to determine our asses from our elbows, nevermind calculate how many Arby's roast beef sandwiches could fit in the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Skating Rink. I feel a round of applause is in order! Professor Dobson, you've helped us all immeasurably, and you deserve great thanks and gratitude.

Now, a few other people I'd like to thank for their efforts and support before I reveal the final number. All the thanks in the world to my beloved wommyn lifepartner Donna. Without her support – both emotional and financial – I'd never have been able to draw up the plans for this project. Other people who helped include Kerrin Durrigan, Sheila Johnson, Graham Larceny, Kennir Dunnigar, Blixa Bargeld and of course, Hapax Legomenon. Now, without further ado, the moment you've all been waiting for. Dip, the envelope please... the number... of Arby's roast beef sandwiches... that can fit inside the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Skating Rink... is...

Three million, five-hundred and fifty-six thousand, two-hundred forty-eight!