Joan of Arcadia
Do The Math

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Joan's walking down the street by herself, reading her math homework aloud. Some dope on a skateboard comes barreling across her path and sideswipes her, sending all of her papers flying. He tells her to watch it. Watch this, jackass. She yells, "Thank you!" sarcastically and adds to herself, "Very much." As she tries to gather up her papers which are all blowing around, she's swarmed by dogs on leashes. Dog Walker God is back! As the dogs sniff excitedly at her papers, he reminds her to look where she's going. Joan: "Thanks for the lecture. It helps right now." He holds up a scrap of paper and comments on the D she got on her geometry test. Wouldn't he, like, know that already? I realize it's fairly trivial in the scheme of things God has to worry about, but I thought God was all about the details. Joan: "Yes! A D! And now the dogs are actually eating my homework! What is this, Take a Cosmic Dump on Joan Day?" God points out he's helping her pick up her stuff: "You're not being very appreciative." Kids these days. Joan snaps, "You want some appreciation? Ease up on the homework and the tests! Maybe toss a lightning bolt at that twerp on the skateboard!" God has other ideas, as usual. He wants her to take piano lessons. Joan gestures at her armful of ragged papers and asks, "Do you see this, All-Seeing One? Huh? I have a Noah's Arkload of homework already." He restates his request. Joan reminds him that she took lessons when she was younger and that he knows he much she hated them. He thought she was kind of good: "I mean, you were solidly in the groove on 'Eensy-Weensy Spider,' remember?" "Eensy-Weensy"? Never heard of that until now. I was brought up with "Itsy-Bitsy." From the forum discussions on the matter, it seems people are almost evenly divided between "Itsy-Bitsy" and "Eensy-Weensy." I guess it's one of those regional things, like whether you call carbonated sugar water "pop," "soda," "soft drink," or "Coke." (The idea that someone would call all such drinks "Coke" is rather frightening to me. What do you ask for if you want orange soda? Orange Coke?) Or whether you call it "frosting," "icing," or the latest compromise, "fricing." The fine people at Harvard have done a whole study on things like this. Marvel at the good chunk of the population that apparently talks like Cletus. Anyway. Joan tries another tack: her parents can't afford lessons. Good one! Especially since it's probably true. God assures her she'll figure it out. As he walks away, she says, "No! I won't!" In a variation on the Godwave, he just points at the house she's standing in front of. She looks and sees a hand-lettered cardboard sign advertising piano lessons on the porch post. Man. That God thinks of everything.

After the credits, Joan knocks on the door of the house, which is a big, beautiful old place with leaded glass windows and lots of gingerbread -- which some of you might call "bargeboard." (Something the Harvard people didn't study.) Nurse Ratched opens the door. Through the screen door, she crabs, "What do you want?" Joan peers at something inside -- I can't tell what -- and answers, "Piano lessons." The older lady puts on a huge pair of those very 1970s career woman glasses and asks if Joan's parents are forcing her. Joan says they're not. The piano teacher exhales noisily and asks, "Then why?" Joan mutters unconvincingly about how she used to play when she was little and she misses it. Another moan from the teacher. Joan tries again, saying, "Because someone very important thought I was good at 'Eensy-Weensy Spider' -- how many reasons do you need?" The teacher says, "Fifty. You got fifty bucks?" Joan: "Fifty?" The reply: "Yeah. That'll barely cover the scotch I'll need after listening to another kid butcher Bach." As Joan says the cost might be a bit of a problem, the teacher closes the door in her face. Joan knocks again and suggests she could pay in installments. The teacher looks thrilled about that. Joan then suggests she could work for the lessons, maybe do some housecleaning for her. The piano teacher pounces on that: "You saying I keep a dirty house?" Joan stammers about that, and the teacher tells her to come back tomorrow at 4:30: "Bring your old exercise books. And if I have nothing to build on, you're out on your keister!" She shuts the door again, and Joan yells at her that that's not very nice. From inside, we hear a muffled voice: "Get off my porch!"

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Joan of Arcadia

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