Do you remember those childhood days when adding “… and a half” to our age was of critical importance? I was watching a TV show recently where they interviewed a young star who was asked how old he was. When he added “…and a half” it took me back. Waaaay back!
I can’t remember exactly when I started, but I recall adding “… and a half” to my age since the beginning of the school years when fractions were first introduced. “What a great invention!” I thought.
When I place myself back in childhood, I remember always being one of the shortest kids in my group of friends and when grown-ups would be guessing my age, they were always on the younger side.
While I’d like to think I’ve acquired better social skills since then, at the time, I did not hesitate in correcting those crazy grown-ups by telling them exactly how old I was. It seemed like adding “…and a half” proved them even more wrong.
In my 20’s, as my career was just starting, those halves would still show up from time to time in response to how many years I had been in the work force or how many years I lived in that first apartment, but the halves started losing their importance and fading from vocabulary.
In my 30’s and 40’s, halves rarely came up in my own conversations anymore. By that point in life, most parts of my adult life I had been doing for rounded up years whether that was work assignments, home ownership, car ownership or how long since I had that thing checked by a doctor.
Funny enough, the halves fought back and found their way to other parts of the conversation instead. In our family, my mom popularized the “half” in asking if people wanted to share a dessert when a full one seemed like too much. Among friends, our appetites and ability to burn calories aren’t exactly what they were when we knew each other in high school, so the sharing of a burger “and a half” or a hot dog “and a half” has also become an increasingly common coordination exercise at summer barbecues.
At the same time, with digital scales becoming more popular, halves started popping up in conversations about weight. Back when we had those scales with the itty biddy lines, it was next to impossible to see whether we gained or lost half a pound. But digital scales changed that. We now know to the tenth of a point how we are doing. On a gradual weight loss plan, each measurement of weight “…and a half” is more reason to rejoice at the progress one is making, thereby justifying in our minds our eligibility for a half piece of cake or half of a burger.
In my 50’s (and please don’t remind me that this is the half-century mark, I can do without that one) “and a half” seems to be creeping back into conversation as my cohort of friends and colleagues discuss years left to retirement. Even our ages seem to be getting “and-a-halved” again as we seem increasingly eager to see the finish line of our work life and look forward to the next chapter.
I have no idea whether the halves will be back with a vengeance in the 60’s 70’s, 80’s and beyond. Time will tell. Maybe it depends on whether we see the glass half-full or half-empty. I’m sure that getting to those golden years will be half the fun.
Either way, halves do have a place in society and conversation, but we must exercise caution. We can’t just run out half-cocked and use halves all over hell’s half-acre.
A half-hearted attempt at using a “half” statement, could be an invitation to meet trouble half-way. If one uses half a mind to ensure “halves” are used appropriately, the statement won’t appear half-assed.
Using halves judiciously is half the battle. And when we do, the outcome really isn’t half bad.
This post is dedicated to Juliette, queen of the halves!
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