In a perfect world, sentence construction would matter more.
And the latest beauty formula would rely upon metaphor maybe, instead of math and made-up words like "plantscription." Please. Who is getting paid to write this stuff?
So when the people at Origins fill my inbox with promises to make me look "4x younger in just 4 weeks," my vanity-encrusted heart wants to believe, but the part of me that struggles with middle school algebra says wait, what?
Because to me, the math looks like this: 4x less than 48 = 12. But that would be ridiculous. Also, I never got past algebra 2, so I am clearly not qualified to make $55 beauty decisions.
This is where having a math geek on your advisory board can be useful.
"Don't you already look 12?" she says, in a crack that is clearly aimed at the fact that I am wearing my 13-year-old daughter's hand-me-down Aeropostale t-shirt.
She wore it for about a week before Hollister became the only acceptable t-shirt for seventh graders in the Greater Chicago Area. The fact that I am now wearing it ought to confer on me a little Econ 101 cred, at the very least.
But that is not the point. The point is, what will $55 worth of plantscription get me? The answer is, apparently, a raging crush on David Cassidy and a horse obsession.
Here's why, according to the Suburban Executive, who was so lacking in imagination at the age of 18 that she thought college would be a good place to study economics and math:
"Here's how I'd do it," she says, by which she means, "it is obvious to anyone who can balance a checkbook."
"First you need to know your age-to-appearance ratio, or the AG/AP. If the AG/AP = 1, you're doing just OK. You actually look your age, which we all know means failure, but at least you're not looking like granny yet. Anything less than 1 obviously is a complete failure. Botox needed immediately.
So an AG/AP of, say, 1.3 is great because you are 45 but look 35. I'd put myself in this category.
Here's the tricky part: You don't want to let the AG/AP get too high, because that means you're just trying too hard. The calculus level class on this throws in a wave function that adjusts this ratio for plastic surgery -- this would take into account the fact that some women, say, the real housewives of Miami types, have had so much plastic surgery that it makes them look younger but in a way that everyone really knows they're old.
But I'm not going to go there with you, because (and here she insults my ability to solve algebraic equations that do not involve wine servings).
Once you have your AG/AP ratio calculated, you complete this equation:
|(ratio - 1)| /4 -- that's how much younger this product will make you look.
If you are, say, 48, but look 40, your AG/AP is 1.2 So you look 20 percent younger. This stuff is going to make you look 80 percent younger; 80 percent of 48 is 38.4, but hey, let's round off. So you will look 38 years younger, which is 10."
All of which I am willing to accept except for the part where she assigns herself an AG/AP of 1.3 and gives me a 1.2 How is that even fair? I am the one sitting here in the Aeropostale t-shirt.
But we both know that her breezy reference to throwing in a wave function blah blah whatever leaves me badly positioned to argue.
This is a little like Schrödinger's equation of quantum mechanics, in that it makes no sense whatsoever - least of all to the cat - but you can't question the premise without at least one year of calculus.
And that is one year you will never get back.