The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

The Integral and Differential Maverick

The math professor rose above the desire to be a crowd pleaser. Sure, it was an interdisciplinary conference of colleagues, but he’d had a lifetime of receiving precisely these blank stares. In fact, any other glance might upend him, so he kept his eyes on the PowerPoint documents by the microphone and read his notes word for word.

He kept mispronouncing Sudoku. A very loyal fan of the game snapped to attention. He frequently said, “Sukudo,” and the woman in the audience growled, “Sudoku!” through gritted teeth. Then she began to write the letters on her program over and over, darkening each character as he rearranged them in his speech. On occasion, his voice cracked. As a native, he could charm the international attendees by saying Italian researcher’s names with the proper accent. The flowing romantic tones inspired tinges of forgiveness with his source citations.

However, when he mentioned a “Rubrics Cube,” the room of typically patient educators began to fidget. His presentation went on without yielding to the non-verbal cues because in telling people about math, about its glory, he felt utter peace. And when it was time to explain how a cryptogram worked his smile became so broad that he propped his elbow on the desk and moved his chin down into his hand, just to restrain himself a bit.

On the final slide he gave a glance to a spot on the back wall of the meeting room, signaling the end of his current ideas about recreational mathematics. He gave his conclusions happily and accepted relieved applause as he took three gracious paces to reach his chair.

-Rome, Italy.

2 comments on “The Integral and Differential Maverick

  1. tiff
    December 4, 2011

    This is good. Real good.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      December 4, 2011

      Thanks so much! Perhaps you have known prof-types like this, though I hope it wasn’t ever me! I think my need for positive non-verbal feedback would never permit it. He was a true renegade. 🙂

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This entry was posted on December 2, 2011 by in Europe, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , .

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