The word "zero" was one of those words I somehow didn't just pick up as a child, and had to ask what it meant.

My dad had used it in a sentence at the dinner table and I couldn't figure out from the context what it meant. So I asked, "What does zero mean?"


'Nothing' sounded to me like a classic attempt at escaping it's true meaning, and I felt this 'zero' must mean something real important if my dad didn't want to tell me over the dinner table. I wasn't going to let him get off that easy though. "No, come on, really stop joking what does it mean?"

"I already told you it means nothing!"

"No obviously it means something, what does it mean?" I considered the possibility that 'zero' didn't mean anything, and was just a sort of filler word thrown into sentences, like damn. More likely, he was hiding some form of forbidden knowledge, which there seemed to be a lot of, that I would find out when I was 'older'. Just like the word 'cunt', I swear I remember I had made that word up but my mom got so mad about it. Moms are so strange.

"Look, if you have two apples and I take two away then you have zero apples."

"No then you wouldn't have any apples, how could you have zero if you don't have any?" I was surprised he hadn't said the dreaded discussion ending phrase 'you'll find out when you're older' yet, so it couldn't be forbidden knowledge. But if it wasn't, what did it mean?

"Just drop it." My dad carried on his former conversation with no further discussion of the meaning of zero taking place.

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