That's the number that came to me in my dream. Mean anything to you, or are you still in the dark as I am? Thought so.
I've held this one for a day, in the hopes that a question to fit the answer might come to me in a blinding ray of light or arrive carried on the backs of four Valkyrie, but the bulb must be blown out, and the ladies must be busy elsewhere because I sure haven't noticed any Swedish nubiles in steel breastplates anywhere near. I know I'd remember something like that.
So this is how it happened. Night before last, I lay me down to sleep at 9:30ish, par for the course. At 12:24 am by my clock, the telephone rang. Not rang and rang, just rang, and not even a whole ring, but perhaps a third of one or so, like someone had dialed my number by accident and realised it, but hung up too late, as the connection was made and all three telephones in the house responded. Either way, it was enough to wake me up.
So I got out of bed, slowly, as my back was giving me the usual complaints, and not being one of those people who wake up instantly I blearily shuffled the fifteen feet or so to the bathroom, and it was then that it hit me.
If you've ever been stuck in the grocery store without a calculator, or been at the gas pump and needed to figure up a total price but had no pen or paper, or been in an Algebra II class without your cheat sheet handy and had to figure it all in your head then you know what it feels like to Get The Answer. You juggle the numbers, you visualise the equation, you work whatever mental gymnastics you usually do to make it all work, and with a gentle "pop" the answer is there. That's how I felt as I entered the bathroom door.
"161. Thank you for using your brain. We realise you have a choice in holographic problem solving equipment, and we hope you choose your brain again soon. You may now return to your regularly scheduled urination."
I can only assume that in my dreams I was trying to figure nurse's mileage, or maybe trying to add up columns of numbers to make sure I still could, or maybe I was trying to figure out how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie-Roll center of a Tootsie Pop. Me, I may never know. Whatever it was, the answer was 161. Not the words 'one hundred and sixty one' either. It was distinctly the numerals 161. I felt like I had stumbled across an X-Files episode and heard the title, "161," and now it was my job to figure out why Chris Carter decided to name it that. Was 161 Mulder's childhood house number? Is 161 the number of hairs Skinner had left on his scalp when he decided to shave it all off? Are there 161 Morleys to a carton? 161 abductees to be returned to Earth on January 6th, 2001? 161 documented Chuppacabra attacks?
I remember this number, me who forgets what day it is after checking the calendar, because it hit me with the force of a vision, and I knew that if I forgot this one I'd be pretty dang upset. Last time I forgot a vision I ended up in Arizona in the back of a pickup truck naked except for a half-eaten burrito. So, I wrote it on the bathroom mirror with the bar of soap and went back to bed.
And the question still hasn't come to me. I feel like Arthur Dent trying to figure out what "42" means. I haven't asked the right question yet, obviously, but I'm having a hard time figuring out what the right question might BE. Imagine my difficulty.
Go on, try it.
There. I don't feel so bad anymore.
So, my quest for you today--decide what the question is to the answer "161," and tell me down there in the comments thingie.
Go on, don't be afraid.
And while you're at it, buy a T-shirt.