Tom Heymann looks at the world through a screen of numbers. In 1989 he published On an Average Day…, a 214-page tabulation of such American esoterica as the number of Elvis sightings in a 24-hour period (one) and the sum spent on dog food ($8.55 million). For his 1991 book, In an Average Lifetime…, Heymann took a longer view and discovered that Americans can expect to fall in love six times and experience 4,438 orgasms. His fifth and most recent compilation offers 203 pages of statistics about the people who hold such immense fascination for Americans these days — the Japanese. For comparison’s sake, Heymann provides footnotes with relevant U.S. statistics. Keep in mind that Japan, with an area roughly the size of California, has half the population of the U.S.: 124 million. A sampler from On an Average Day in Japan…:
*534 arranged marriages are performed.
*The average Japanese has $40,119 in his or her bank savings account (Americans average $10,822).
*4,584 crimes are committed (the U.S. figure is 93,474).
*The government spends a sum of $7,123,288 on the arts (U.S. figure: $1,477,102).
*The Japanese buy 71.5 million newspapers (versus 63 million newspapers purchased by Americans).
*The average CEO earns 17 times as much as the average worker (U.S. CEOs earn 85 times as much).
*The Japanese buy 46,200 sets of golf clubs (U.S. figure: 33,973).
Heymann, 34, is a firm believer in the therapeutic value of statistics. ”People can have fun with this,” he says, ”learn from it, and maybe take themselves a little less seriously because we’re all reflected in numbers.” The author resides in Chappaqua, N.Y., with his wife, Grace, and their two children. On an average day he spends 2.5 hours commuting, 9 hours working, 1 hour eating, 2.5 hours caring for his kids, and 1 hour talking (”and screaming”) with his wife.