THERE WERE SO MANY fun things to do at home (especially so when home happened to be the White House) than doing ones trigonometry homework. You could order whatever snack you wanted from the kitchen but you couldn't eat as much as you like because as a member of the First Family you always had to be camera ready. There was the incessant fear of looking over weight even if you were the right weight the camera made you look ten pounds heavier than you were. So in order to look fit you had to be ten pounds underweight and in order to look fabulous you took off another ten pounds.
Celeste with pencil in hand and calculator by her side stared indifferently at her opened book. The logarithm of a product is the sum of the logarithms of the numbers being multiplied. "What the …" sighed an exasperated Celeste.
There were so many remarkable things to experience in the White House. She could walk to the Lincoln Bedroom, and just flop down on the bed and gaze up at the regal velvet drapes and elliptical gilt overhang. To think you could lay your head down on the spot where Lincoln slept was an extraordinary situation that for Celeste could be an every day occurrence.
Celeste then reread the math problem. She gritted her teeth, but those kinds of things like flopping down on the bed where Lincoln slept, were not a option if you didn't do your homework. Celeste's dad and mom were excellent students and remarkable over-achievers and like it or not, Celeste Canton had a lot to live up to.
Celeste realized then and there that she absolutely abhorred logarithm problems. Why don't they just call them exponents and leave it at that and why must mathematicians complicate things just to prove how smart they think they are? Why can't she do what she wants to do? Celeste wanted to be an artist, a maker of beautiful things that delight and inform the eye.
And yet every time she brought this up to her parents, they smiled in a condescending way. "You can paint," her father would say in his soothing baritone, "but you have also find something that can always make you money. Something that is not so arbitrary."
Celeste glared at her father, the President. "As if politics is not arbitrary," she replied in a huff.
At that her father and mother exchanged glances and smiles. They were a good-looking couple. Her father's distinct jaw and white hair made a striking profile. Her mother was always stylish and styled thanks to the White House beauty salon that Nancy Reagan had installed. "You're right, darling, politics is an arbitrary science but they try and make it less so. That's why there are Gallup Polls, focus groups, even the primaries." The president smiled his ingratiating smile. His eyes twinkled. Celeste succumbed to her father's slick charm.
"And dear," her mom spoke up adding to the conversation. "There are mathematical equations that our people use to predict the sort of surges in popularity that play so much in politics. It is more a science than you would think. Our people incorporate these highly developed logarithmic functions to give us a heads up."
Celeste cowered. Ugh that word again.