Rose and Dave Ross, my parents, had something extraordinary in common, and they never knew it, and there was no way for them to have ever known it. You see, each of them lived exactly 91 years and 20 days.
When I attended a fundraiser in New York City for my alma mater, I was informed that a classmate of mine had become a famous mathematician. A friend directed me his way, and there he was in a far corner of the living room holding court in front of a group of admiring classmates.
I listened for a few moments and then gingerly inquired as to whether he was in fact a mathematician. When he replied in the affirmative, I told him that he was exactly the right person to answer a nagging question I could not answer myself. He seemed more than open to the challenge.
“My parents each lived 91 years and 20 days. What are the odds of that happening?” I inquired of the genius. When he went into deep thought, I could almost hear his brain calculating the odds. We all looked at him as if we were in the presence of Albert Einstein.
After no more than 15 seconds, he announced that he had an answer to my question. We the assembled were now fully convinced that before us stood one of the greatest minds of our time. We looked up at him figuratively and literally since this genius was quite tall.
He waited as our anticipation built. Finally he said to the attentive assembled, “The answer to your question “what are the odds of your parents each living exactly 91 years and 20 days”—the odds are…… very slim.” This genius in our midst was more than a genius, he was also a comedian. Yes, I went home and looked him up in our reunion book, and sure enough, this mathematician did stand-up comedy on the side.
I never did learn the odds, but “very slim” was good enough for me.