A new radio episode of "Vic and Sade"
by Bill Kincaid
Ann Arbor, Michigan
24 March 1997
copyright 1997 by William H. Kincaid
Well, sir, it's late afternoon as we approach the small
house halfway up in the next block, where we find young
Russell working with some papers at the library table
in the living room and his mother talking on the
SADE: Well, I wouldn't worry about it too much, Ruthie. You
know how these things are. I'd be willing to bet that
by next Saturday a week all that frizziness will be
gone and your hair will again be your crowning glory,
as they say. (PAUSE) Um. Uh-huh. Well, it's bound to
be a temporary thing. No, no, I wouldn't do that if I
were you -- at least not just yet. I'd wait . . .
(PAUSE) No, I'd wait to see whether it improves, and I
just know it will. Look, I have to go now. I'll come
over tomorrow and see how it's getting along. Then
we'll know more about what to do. Yes . . . Yes . . .
O.K., all right. I'll call you tomorrow. Goodbye now.
SADE: (TO RUSH) I heard you come in and settle down at the
table, but I couldn't break off my talk with Ruthie.
She's in such trouble. Well, hello there, Willie, my
boy. Did you have a good day at school?
RUSH: Hi, Mom. Yeah, things were pretty much at their own
normal, dismal pace. Except . . . what's the trouble
at the Stembottoms?
SADE: Oh, she's going to a wedding of one of Fred's cousins
in Peoria the weekend after next and so she got herself
a new permanent.
RUSH: Didn't sound like she was very happy with it.
SADE: No, that's the problem. It turned out so frizzy
looking that Ruthie's in a tizzy -- fit to be tied is
more like it. I even thought she may start crying
right there on the phone.
RUSH: Oh, that must be a bad case of frizziness to have her
in such a tizzy. I've heard tell that the frizzies are
bound to cause the tizzies.
SADE: Now, there's no reason to be so smart-alecky, Willie.
You wouldn't know what a woman feels like when she's
got the frizzies -- especially after she just put out
five whole dollars to get them.
RUSH: I see. It's a financial crisis as well as a hair
SADE: Well, the money crisis isn't nearly as bad as the
frizzy crisis. What are all those in-laws going to
think if she shows up with the frizzies? It might be
different if she was going to her own cousin's wedding,
but in-laws . . .
RUSH: Yeah, I suppose she always wants to put her best head
forward with in-laws.
SADE: Well, I told her things would get better, and I'll go
over tomorrow and see what's what -- at least cheer her
up a bit about it. But what are you doing here at the
RUSH: Oh, I thought I'd knock off a bit of this homework this
afternoon before I did anything else of lesser
importance. Notice that he said this with a self-
SADE: You got some ulterior motive, my ever-loving son?
RUSH: No, no, I just got to thinking . . .
SADE: Because this is unusual enough for me to suspect
there's some deep-seated reason why you've taken up
with homework so diligently here even before supper
time. You don't have a temperature, do you?
RUSH: I just got to thinking on the way home about something
that happened in algebra class today.
SADE: Did Bluetooth Johnson get his teeth all stuck up with
homemade taffy again and then get called on by Miz
RUSH: No, it was something she told us about and then we
talked about in class.
SADE: Did Miz Monroe get off the subject of mathematics and
talk about the real world?
RUSH: No, it was about mathematics. She said there was such
a thing as imaginary numbers, and we're going to be
including them in our work over the next week or so.
SADE: Imaginary numbers? Why, aren't there enough real
numbers to play around with, so that they have to go
and imagine numbers on top of that? What on earth do
they look like, something from Mars, maybe?
RUSH: No, they look like real numbers, but we call them
SADE: Are you fooling your old mother, here?
RUSH: No, no. It's pretty complicated, but they really do
look like real numbers.
SADE: Do you think your old mother -- your old poorly
educated mother -- could understand what you're talking
about if you explained it?
RUSH: Sure. An imaginary number is defined as the square
root of a negative number.
SADE: See, I understand that right away. (PAUSE) What makes
that so strange?
RUSH: Well, you see, if you square any number, the resulting
number is always positive, even if the original number
was a negative one.
SADE: Whoa, there, Willie. You mean if I square a number
like 3, the answer is always positive? That would be
RUSH: Yes, that's it.
SADE: And if I square a minus 3, I get the same positive
answer of nine?
RUSH: That's it exactly.
SADE: Well, how can it be that squaring a positive or a
negative number can give you the same answer?
RUSH: That's mathematics for you. It's just a rule you gotta
accept. I guess the people who invented mathematics
just set the rules the way they thought they'd work out
best. Who am I to question these nitwit geniuses?
SADE: Now, where do the imaginary numbers come in?
RUSH: Well, if every number that's a square is a positive
number, we can find the square root of that number and
it's either a negative or a positive number, like your
number 3 or minus 3.
SADE: I wonder if I can get through this conversation without
getting one on my headaches.
RUSH: Well, don't start a headache yet 'cause there's more to
SADE: Every mother should be interested in what her brilliant
son is learning in class, even if it's algebra. Carry
RUSH: So, if every square is a positive, what if you tried to
find the square root of a negative number?
SADE: What's so hard about that?
RUSH: You see, it's because there's no number, plus or minus,
that produces a negative square, there just can't be a
square root of a negative number.
SADE: Now you've done it. I think I've gone over my
capacity, in spite of my high-level evaluation of my
own brain skills. Uh-oh, here comes your father up the
front steps. Maybe you can teach him this new-fangled
VIC: (ENTERING) Hi-de-hi, ho-de-ho, my dear family. Are
you all gathered to welcome the breadwinner home with a
cheer and a great huzzah?
RUSH: One great huzzah to you, oh worthy breadwinner.
SADE: (TO RUSH) Talk about imaginary numbers, there's one
for you. (TO VIC) Hi, sweetheart, we're just having a
mother-to-son discussion about his homework. Maybe you
want to join us?
VIC: Sure, friendly people. Just let me get my things hung
up and I'll be right with you. Seems to be quite a
departure from the daily routine, eh?
RUSH: Just a question of what we learned in algebra today.
SADE: It's a new kind of numbering that we probably should
all be aware of, just in case we might need it next
week Tuesday. (TO RUSH) You think that could be
possible? I hope your father can understand this
better than I can.
VIC: There, now, what's the scoop, George?
RUSH: We learned about imaginary numbers today in algebra and
Lance Wallingstone made a joke about them.
VIC: Is he someone new? Never heard of Lance before.
RUSH: Yeah, he just transferred here from Barcarole, Indiana.
He's a pretty good kid, with a good sense of humor. We
call him Rollingstone.
VIC; And what was this great joke Rollingstone came up with?
RUSH: He said imaginary numbers must be the house numbers
they put on your castles in the air. (CHUCKLES)
SADE: (DRILY) That's pretty funny all right.
VIC: Maybe it was funnier in front of a classroom of
adolescents who had absolutely nothing on their minds.
RUSH: Well, you may be right. We did laugh pretty hard for
such a simple, what you may call, bone mow.
SADE: Bone mow! Listen to your son, would you, Mister Gook.
He's on his way to being educated, or I miss my guess.
Bone mow! I never.
VIC: Anyway, was that all there was to it?
RUSH: I guess so. Mom and I were just talking about the idea
of imaginary numbers.
VIC: It's kinda slipped my mind what they really are, sonny
boy. Would you fill me in again?
RUSH: Sure, I can tell you what imaginary numbers really are!
And that's a joke, too. (CHUCKLES) How do we come up
with these so easily? (CHUCKLES)
SADE: It's pretty technical, Vic. It almost gave me a
headache when we were discussing it. But it's still
early, so maybe it still will.
RUSH: Well, since every number squared is a positive number,
it's impossible to have a square root of a negative
number. See, it's that simple.
VIC: So, you can't have a square root of a negative number?
RUSH: That's right.
VIC: So, such a number doesn't exist? Not here or on any
RUSH: Not one that's been discovered so far, gov.
VIC: And so, why do we need them?
RUSH: I don't know yet. I think the teacher's gonna explain
that in the next few lessons.
SADE: You'll make sure you're there for that explanation,
won't you, dear son?
RUSH: Oh, yes.
VIC: And scurry home with the news to your dear, loving
parents, so they'll be just as elucidated as you, eh?
RUSH: Yeah, sure.
VIC: Of course, I'm not completely unacquainted with
imaginary numbers, you know.
RUSH: Do you use them at the office, gov?
VIC: No, but I've been exposed to a multitude of imaginary
numbers in my day.
SADE: You never mentioned anything like that to me. What are
you talking about?
VIC: Well, I just don't go blabbing every nitwit thing that
ever happens to me, do I? I'd have to keep talking
nonstop, I'd think.
RUSH: Where have you seen imaginary numbers?
VIC: Well, it occurs to me that it must be imaginary numbers
that win the daily numbers game, because I never run
into a winner.
SADE: (SHOCKED) Are you telling us that you have gambled away
our money on the numbers game?
VIC: Oh, no, but I have a friend who lays down a nickel now
and then, here and there, anywhere and nowhere.
SADE: Who in the world does that?
VIC: Well, I can't say. It would be destroying a confidence.
RUSH: Well, I'm glad it isn't you, gov. I'd have a hard time
facing up to the fact that I'm the only son of a big-
time gambler. (SNICKERING)
SADE: Now, you wouldn't be pulling our leg, would you,
VIC: My, no. Why would I tease you about such an important
idea as imaginary numbers?
SADE: I think you probably do know more than you let on.
VIC: I have run into other imaginary numbers. Almost every
time a woman tells her age . . . .
SADE: What a horrible thing to say!
RUSH:(CHUCKLING) That's pretty funny, gov. How about when a
woman gives a man her dress size, or shoe size? Does
VIC: Now you got it, my bright son. Oh, and fit. (LAUGHS)
I just got it.
SADE: Well, aren't you two a couple of comedians! I think
you ought to quit your job and go on the radio. Maybe
you could take the place of Jack Benny on Sunday
RUSH: (LAUGHING) Maybe we could, gov, maybe we could.
SADE: And just a minute here. It's not all one way, you
know. Those imaginary numbers come in right handy when
some man tells you his golf score.
VIC: Ho, ho, HO. We're being counter-attacked, my little
RUSH: Will we survive?
VIC: Oh, I think we'll come through this without stain or
strain. But I think the enemy is trying to do a number
on us. (LAUGHS FROM VIC AND RUSH)
SADE: And another thing. It occurs to me that you can see
imaginary numbers any day of the week if you go to the
right place and look.
VIC: Where's that, old girl?
SADE: Just go over there on Maple Street to the used car lot
and look at the mileage on any of those cars sitting
there. Some man has imagined those numbers, I'm sure.
VIC: (LAUGHING HARD AND CHOKING) You know, George, I think
she may have won this battle, after all. What do you
RUSH: (LAUGHING) You must be right. I'm all out of bone
VIC: I guess it's truce time, whatta ya say, Sade?
SADE: Oh, all right, now that you've admitted I've got the
last dig in.
VIC: Oh, oh, wait, just wait a minute.
RUSH: Something new, gov?
VIC: Yes, yes, although men are much more guilty of this
abuse than women, I'm afraid.
SADE: O.K., out with it, old man.
VIC: Well, there's a season and date for imaginary numbers
that affects the whole country. Tell me what it is.
SADE: I can't think of what it would be. How about you,
RUSH: I'm at a loss, too. We give up, gov.
VIC: Well, in the late winter every year a lot of people
fill out those government income tax forms and on March
15th all those imaginary numbers gather together in
Washington, DC. (LAUGHING) It's like an annual
convention of imaginary numbers.
SADE: I've had enough. I'm on my way to peel potatoes for
our humble supper.
RUSH: Did you tell gov about Mrs. Stembottom's problem?
VIC: Oh, what's wrong?
SADE: Frizzy permanent and a wedding coming up in Peoria.
She's in a tizzy.
RUSH: Yeah, one of those frizzy tizzies.
SADE: Don't mock her now, Willie. It's a woman's tragedy.
You don't know what we women go through with our trials
and tribulations trying to look decent for our men.
VIC: You trying to cheer her up?
SADE: Yes, I promised to come over tomorrow and see if
there's any improvement. Maybe I'll make some of that
peach cobbler and take her a big dish of it.
VIC: That's nice.
SADE: Um. Wish there was something else I could do. (PAUSE)
Um. . . . (CHEERILY) Maybe I'll tell her about
imaginary numbers . . . .