John Johnston reports:
Jack Greenlee of West Chester Township and Matthew Smeal of Evendale don’t know each other, but they have a few things in common.
Such as a favorite or lucky number: 12.
The number of letters in their names: 12.
And a birth date. Both boys entered the world on Dec. 12, 2000, which means they turn 12 today – on 12/12/12.
“We’ve talked forever that he was going to turn 12 this year,” said Jack’s mother, Lori Greenlee.
Twelve-year-old birthday boys and girls everywhere have extra reason to whoop it up today. After all, the calendar won’t show this kind of confluence of numbers again until Jan. 1, 2101, or 01/01/01.
About 12,460 babies were born in the U.S. on Dec. 12, 2000, said Joanna Mitro, a professor of mathematical sciences at the University of Cincinnati. She arrived at that estimate using National Vital Statistics Reports, which list births by month but not by specific date.
She also computed the probability that a person born in the year 2000 has a Dec. 12 birthday: 0.003 or three-tenths of 1 percent.
Finally, by looking at Cincinnati Census data, she estimated that about 10 or 11 kids in the city are turning 12 today.
It almost seemed preordained that Jack Greenlee, a sixth-grader at Adena Elementary in West Chester Township, would be born on 12/12. His father, Tom, was born on 10/10. His maternal grandfather was born on 8/8.
Last year, Jack’s mother saw an article about 11/11/11. It reminded her to start planning for 12/12/12. She thought, at first, about celebrating at a fast-food place.
“My older son said, ‘Oh no, you have to go to Jag’s.’ ”
One reason Jag’s Steak and Seafood in West Chester Township is the perfect spot for Jack’s party: His full name is Jack Anthony Greenlee, so his initials are J.A.G. (Which also helps explain why he’s a Jacksonville Jaguars fan).
What’s more: “I love steak a lot,” Jack said.
Reservations have been made for – of course – 12: Jack; his mom and dad; his three older siblings; a brother-in-law; Jack’s aunt, her husband and their two sons; and Jack’s grandmother.
The number of invited guests worked out perfectly. Almost. Jack’s sister’s boyfriend didn’t make the cut.
“We just can’t have 13 people,” Jack’s mom said. “It would just be wrong.”
Not much was right last year when Matthew Smeal’s 11th birthday rolled around. His paternal grandfather was hospitalized, so the family was with him.
“It was kind of a lame birthday,” Matthew’s mother, Janet Smeal, said. There wasn’t even cake. “He was OK with it, because he knew grandpa was hurting.”
Grandpa has recovered. So have the birthday plans.
Matthew, a sixth-grader at St. Nicholas Academy in Reading, will come home from school today and find a surprise: an upright piano.
He’s been playing for a couple of years, but until now he couldn’t practice at home.
The thought of all those twelves lining up today gave Matthew an idea: “We might actually buy a lottery ticket,” he said.
Ah, but as Mitro the mathematician noted: “The probability of winning the lottery is slightly less than flipping a coin and getting 27 heads in a row.”
In other words, it’s even less probable than turning 12 on 12/12/12.