Title: Hashing it
Summary: Spock and
McCoy have nitpicking fun in a Waffle House.
HASHING IT OUT
"And what about you?"
The Waffle House waitress eyed the Vulcan cautiously, as if she expected him to neck-pinch her instead of ordering breakfast.
"I would like a double
order of hash browns, please, with onions and plomeek." Spock folded his hands on the table. "And a glass of cold water."
As the waitress walked
away with their order, McCoy took the silverware out of his napkin and grumbled, "Hash browns with plomeek? You're halfway
across the galaxy from home--"
"--And that is precisely
why I have ordered my native vegetable," Spock said pointedly, eyeing the interior of the diner with suspicion.
"You should try something
a little more native Southern! We didn't come here so you could pretend we're still orbiting Vulcan."
"No, Leonard," said
Spock, "I believe we came here as an excuse to avoid your ex-wife."
McCoy glared at him,
but only because it was true. "She isn't happy about Joanna letting me give her away," he commented.
"But you are happy,
and Joanna herself is happy, and that is more important than the opinion of your ex-wife," said Spock. "Tomorrow is not, after
all, Jocelyn's wedding, it is your daughter's."
McCoy's face spread into a smile and his eyes grew
sentimental. "She looks like a princess in that dress. Can't believe she's getting married... Seems like last week she was
wearin' that kind of thing to play dress-up in." He would have continued, but he noticed that Spock appeared to be distracted.
Should have known I'd exceeded his emotion limit by at least three seconds, he thought to himself.
Spock repeated. "This establishment claims that patrons have the choice of ordering their hash browns 1,437,004,800 different
"So what, Spock?
It's just an advertising gimmick."
"On Vulcan, we have
a very high regard for truth in advertising."
"Well, wait a minute,
Spock! How do you know it's not true?" McCoy picked up the little plastic sign from which his companion was reading. "Says
here you can get your hash browns as a single, a double, or scattered, and with... onions, cheese, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes,
chili, ham, bacon bits, curry, baby shrimp, tofu, and, for some godawful reason, plomeek. When you multiply them together
that's a lot of different possible combinations."
"I calculate 12,288
possible hash brown combinations, counting, of course," Spock added, "the option of enjoying them unadulterated."
"How'dya figure that?
What's wrong with their number?"
"I do not know,"
Spock admitted, scribbling furiously on his napkin with a writing implement he might well have pulled out of his ear, for
all Leonard knew.
"I thought you could
do everything in your head," McCoy drawled in a poking tone of voice.
"I can," Spock answered
brightly. He turned the napkin around and slid it across the table to McCoy. "I wanted to show you my computations."
"Ah, I see," said
McCoy dryly. "Thank you." He looked down at the napkin and read across it:
"I don't get it."
"Each hash brown
topping has the potential of either being requested or not requested," Spock explained. "For example, I could have ordered
my hash browns with tomatoes, but I chose not to. Two possible outcomes. Multiply this by the twelve toppings, triple because
of the 'single, double, scattered' option, and the result is 12,288, as I said previously."
McCoy blinked a few
times, digesting this. "Makes sense to me. So, in other words, there aren't 1,437,004,800 different ways to order your hash
"No, not by any means
of approximation." Spock continued to look thoughtful.
"So where'd they
get that number, then? They just pull it out of thin air?" McCoy looked slightly disturbed at the prospect of finding out
that his beloved Waffle House had been intentionally lying to customers for hundreds of years. Not, of course, that the number
of hash brown combos was important.... no, sir, not when the coffee was hot and the pork chops tender.
"I believe they made
the same error that you did just now," Spock theorized. "Apparently, they tripled twelve factorial, or twelve times eleven
"Yes, I know what's
"...instead of tripling
the twelfth power of two, as they should have. The problem with their version of the computation," Spock explained, "is that
their way counts, for example, 'mushrooms and cheese' as a separate option from 'cheese and mushrooms', which is clearly--"
"--Don't say it!--"
The waitress, who
had just appeared at the table bearing a tray of hot food, didn't seem at all surprised to hear that word issue from a Vulcan's
mouth. "Here ya go," she said automatically as she deposited their plates on the table--grits smothered in everything for
McCoy, with a side of cinnamon apples, and Spock's plomeek-infested hash browns.
McCoy eyed the plate
of golden and purple suspiciously as he tore into his grits. "Does that actually taste any good?"
"I would not have
ordered it if--"
"Right, I knew that."
He took a swig of his coffee.
"Would you like to
In the time McCoy
took to waver with indecision, Spock scooped up some of the food with his own fork and held it across the table towards McCoy's
mouth. Once it came too close to eye suspiciously without growing painfully cross-eyed, he accepted the forkful and chewed
"That's not bad,"
he said after swallowing, surprised. "I guess you know what you're doing. Still seems like pretty strange fusion food to me,
"The tastes of two
worlds coming together to produce an unexpectedly pleasing combination," said Spock, catching McCoy's eyes across the table.
McCoy smiled, a shiver
running through his body, and he attacked the rest of his grits with gusto.