I'm a reasonably bright individual, but I cannot do math. I have a mental block of the impenetrable kind. I am explaining this to my passenger.

A half hour ago, I had picked him up at Union Jacks; we stopped by Napa Auto Parts, then headed for Milwaukie. He's an older guy who either has a Harley or once had one, with a bit of a belly covered by a lurid floral print shirt and a remarkable head of long, thick hair streaked with gray.

The whole way south, we talked about relationships: how some people think I'm weird for being close friends with exes, how his best friends are his exes, too. He said it was probably due to his fondness for strong uppity women, women like me. He managed to make this sound like a compliment rather than a come-on. He asked me what sort of things got me going; we talked about listening to other people's music and playing our own, about books. A pleasant but entirely ordinary conversation.

Now we're sitting in the parking lot of the River Roadhouse, and somehow the subject of stuff I decidedly don't like has come up; math tops that list. And this is where Retired Biker Guy takes flight. He talks about the elegance of math, how it contains some of the few principles that are truly universal, its simultaneous simplicity and complexity. He tells me I'm a beautiful person in tune with the world, so there's no way I couldn't understand it if I really tried.

Then he heads off into the bar, leaving me to do the math to determine just how much he overpaid me.