I should have known that Dad never jokes about mathematics.
"I didn't use the quadratic formula," Dad said, looking at me like I was crazy. "I didn't need to. See, if you have zero-x-squared plus four x plus seventy-two equals zero, then zero-x-squared is just zero so you have 4x + 72 = 0, and so x equals minus eighteen."
I stood there for a moment in shock. I hadn't even thought of that.
"Oh my GOD," I yelled, "I'm not just an evil math professor, I'm a STUPID math professor!"
"Well, you could put in the instructions that you must use the quadratic formula to solve it," Dad offered, obviously trying to make me feel better.
Yeah. Yeah, that was it! God bless Dad, he had saved the day again! I ran off to add the fine print, "IMPORTANT: Use quadratic formula ONLY!" to the instructions for that problem and printed a bunch of them out.
It was time to get dressed. I donned the T-shirt with the message "I survived a year as Chairman of the Math Department," topped it with the Hawaiian shirt, and pulled on Charlie's khaki cargo shorts. I threw on some athletic socks and sneakers, and went into Dad's office to show him the full effect. He sat back and looked at me thoughtfully.
"Hm," he said approvingly. "Hawaiian shirt, shorts, grungy socks, sneakers -- you could take MY job!"
I laughed, and it was time to go. I stuffed my pop quizzes in my pocket, hopped in the car with Mom, and we were off. This year, Cabaret dude was in for an even bigger surprise. I couldn't wait to see how my fellow party-goers would react to this.
We pulled up at the party, and wandered up to the door, where we were met by Satan, Puss in Boots, and a Warlock. They all looked at me quizzically. "Okay, I give up," said Puss in Boots, "what are you?"
I pulled the garish Hawaiian shirt to one side, displaying the message, "I survived a year as Chairman of the Math Department," and smiled evilly. They began to look a bit nervous (possibly remembering Glambo's weapon of the year before) as I reached into my pocket.
"I'm the most frightening thing you can imagine," I stated emphatically. "I am a MATH TEACHER!"
They drew back in horror!
"WITH A POP QUIZ!" I yelled, whipping out a handful of my math problem cards and handing them each the one with the base eight problem on it. They took them with trembling hands.
Well, all but the Warlock, who sneered, "Warlocks do not NEED mathematics!" and swept away with a swirl of his cape. Ohhhhkay. I couldn't really argue with that. Well, I could, but he'd probably beat me to death with his giant warlock staff. Meanwhile, Puss in Boots and Satan were pondering the question.
"I can solve this on the computer," said Puss in Boots.
"NO CALCULATORS!" I yelled.
Satan was looking at the problem, and moving his mouth a bit, as though puzzling it out. "Hey!" he cried, "I know this! It's Tom Lehrer!"
Well, I had anticipated that someone might get this, but I must admit, this was a bit earlier on than I expected. However, since Satan had done Tomfoolery, a musical based on Tom Lehrer's work, I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. He began working out the problem.
"You can't take three from two, two is less than three, so you look at the four in the tens place," he began.
"WRONG!" I shrieked, and grabbed the piece of paper away from him. "You have to do it in BASE EIGHT!"
I whipped out the red pen, wrote a big "F" on his paper, and handed it back.
"But ... but ..." he stammered wistfully, "I have to go through the base ten lyrics to get to the base eight lyrics!"
"All right, all right," I relented, "I'll give you one more chance."
He went through the base ten lyrics and got partially through the base eight lyrics, but then, he stumbled! "And you get one-two base eight which is ... um ... twelve base ten and you take away three ... that's nine."
"WRONG!" I screamed, and grabbed the piece of paper from him. I took out the red pen and changed the "F" to an "F-" and handed it back.
Satan gazed sadly at his paper. "Too bad, so sad," I sneered. I had flunked Satan. The evening was off to a great start! What other feats of terror could I accomplish this night?
[to be continued here.]