The Boy Who Loved Pi
Paul was bullied at school, of course, but only when the other kids remembered him.
He was a quiet, skinny boy, just like most of the other obvious targets, but lacked any distinctive characteristics. The kid with the biggest head in class, the girl with thick glasses, the boy who peed his pants one day – they were in the major leagues. Paul lagged way behind them. Sometimes he would get a bully’s attention when the main targets were absent, or maybe suffer from collateral damage if he happened to sit near one of them, but that was it.
Most of the time, however, Paul went completely unnoticed. Teachers barely knew his name. The other boys didn’t talk to him. And let’s not even mention girls.
He would have remained invisible for the rest of his school years if it hadn’t been for pi.
It was supposed to be a regular math class, as boring and unmemorable as any other. The teacher was about to explain a new concept which he would later repeat to exhaustion and students would still manage to forget during their exams.
“So, let’s try dividing the circumference of a circle by its diameter, shall we? We’re going to get a weird number. Do you know what that is?”
After the usual moment of awkward silence, something extraordinary happened. Paul raised his hand. Half of the class had forgotten who that boy was, including the teacher, who quickly glanced at the diary to remember the boy’s name.
“Very good, let’s hear from… Paul, yes, Paul. What number is it?”
He could have gone on to the 20th digit, but it would have been impossible to hear his voice over everyone’s laughter. Even the teacher had a hard time keeping a straight face.
“Thanks, Paul. That was… very precise, yes. Anyway, the number is called pi. No, not the one you eat. Here’s how it’s written…”
No matter what the teacher said, however, there was no way to salvage the kids’ attention that day. Or Paul’s reputation, for that matter. The string of ten digits after 3 was enough to propel him to the top of the bullying hit list. The boy who had peed his pants almost did it again in that math class just from laughing at Paul. Someone had managed to outweird him.
Everything about Paul’s routine changed after that day. Teachers started whispering his name in the corridors, acting as if they had suddenly found themselves in that Matt Damon movie. The girl with the thick glasses couldn’t stop staring at him during class. Everyone laughed at Paul that day, but she was the only one who blushed while doing so.
As for the bullies, well, they would never let Paul go unnoticed again. Most of them still didn’t know Paul’s name, but that didn’t matter. They called him something else now. “Pie face.” Somehow those two words always found their way onto the blackboard before classes started. Paul tried pointing out the spelling mistake to the bullies once, but they ended up stealing his lunch.
Paul was no genius, but he was smart enough to know his school years would be tough. At least he could take solace in math. If anything, the bullying made him find even more beauty in shapes and numbers. He didn’t need to look hard to find them. They were everywhere.