Before Mather became Mather, it was Samson Mather, and even before that, Samson Masur, or just Sam, who crowned the SEM Hall of Fame moniker of Donkey Kong, a game he played on his grandfather’s arcade machine. So the change of two letters turned a nice boy, typically Jewish, into a virtuous Creator of the worlds.
On a December evening in the twilight of the 20th century, Sam stepped out of a subway car and saw that the passage to the escalator was packed with a dense crowd of motionless people. With their mouths open, people were staring at some kind of advertisement. Sam was late. December was coming to an end for him and he had a nosebleed to meet with his supervisor before vacation started. He had been putting off this meeting for over a month. The crowd itself didn’t interest him: it doesn’t matter what these idiots have fun with, as long as they don’t get in the way. But they got confused. There was no way to avoid them. So to get out of this mess in the light of day, he’s going to have to hit the road with his elbows.
Sam squirmed under the heavy, uncomfortable woolen coat his roommate, Marx, had gotten for him. Marx had bought a pea coat at a commission army store his freshman year and forgot about it for most of a semester, leaving it in a bag in the hallway. Inevitably, moths would have eaten it if Sam hadn’t seen it. The winter of that year was especially fierce, but it wasn’t she who killed Sam, it was April (oh, this April! oh, these crazy Massachusetts winters!) with its gusty northeasterly wind, and Sam, suppressing his pride. , begged his neighbor for a coat consigned to oblivion. She lied that she liked the style. Marx, as Sam had foreseen, replied, “Take it to your health.” The peacoat, like most of the items bought at the military commission, smelled of mildew and dust and death, and Sam tried not to think about how she ended up in the store. At least she kept him warm much better than the California windbreaker Sam wore for most of his freshman year. And Sam secretly hoped that the elephant-like coat would give it solidity and weight. It turned out, however, quite the opposite, and dressed in a pea coat, Sam looked smaller and younger than his age.
In other words, twenty-one-year-old Sam Musur did not have the physique of a man for whom the crowd would deign to part like the sea, and thus, like the hapless frog from the video game Frogger, he started out. he squeezed through the crowd, muttering apologies, though he didn’t feel any guilt himself. “Amazingly, the information is encoded in the human brain,” he admired on the way. “You say, ‘I’m sorry,’ and you think, ‘Go to hell! In novels, films and games, the characters, unless, of course, the author deliberately endows them with the characteristic features of psychopaths or scoundrels, always speak their mind and behave accordingly. His words were never wrong with his deeds. However, people, honest and mostly respectable common people, constantly said one thing, but he felt or meant something completely different. Crash on the show, not otherwise.
– Where are you going? a man in a green and black fringed hat yelled at Sam.
“I’m sorry,” Sam whispered.
– Your mother! I almost got it! the woman with the baby in the carrier cursed behind Sam’s back.
“Sorry,” Sam sighed.
Every once in a while, someone would rush out of the crush, making a saving gap for Sam. But as soon as Sam ran towards her, another spectator was in front of him, and the crowd closed in again, fascinated by what was happening.
Almost reaching the escalator, Sam turned around to see what was so interesting to people. He imagined that tonight he would tell Marx about the crowd in the subway, and he would exclaim: “Aren’t you curious? Why are you so misanthropic? There are so many interesting things happening in the world.” A misanthrope to the core, Sam didn’t want Marx to think he was a misanthrope, and he looked around. And I saw an old comrade, Sadie Greene.
It cannot be said that in all these years they have never met. They always met at math competitions, science fairs, college open houses, speech and robotics championships, writing and programming courses, and events honoring outstanding students. Because no matter where you go to a run-of-the-mill public school in the East (Sam) or a cool private school in the West (Sadie), one thing is important: if you have your head on your shoulders and not a head of cabbage, then you are in Los Angeles, you walk the same paths of stitches together with unique people like you. They were constantly exchanging glances over the heads of the high-browed teens. Sometimes she’d smile at him, as if confirming that the nonaggression pact was still in effect, and then she’d join her constant companions: a predatory gang of peerless young intellectuals. Boys and girls with fancy, expensive glasses who surpassed Sam only in wealth, whiteness of skin, and strength of teeth. He shunned them. He didn’t want to be seen as just another weird geek hanging around Sadie. He sometimes he imagined her as a villain: he imagined how she betrayed him, he turned, looked away from her. However, she didn’t do anything of the sort, which is a shame. It would be so much easier for him.
He knew she was going to MIT and wondered if their paths would ever cross. He himself studied nearby, at Harvard, and for two and a half years he did not make a single attempt to somehow bring the meeting closer to her. She didn’t make this attempt either.
And suddenly he appeared before him in the flesh. Sadie Green…she almost burst into tears. The puzzle pieces came together. Like a scientist who struggles for years for the proof of a theorem that has eluded him, she suddenly looked at the problem with a fresh and clear gaze and saw the obvious and only correct solution. Sadie. Yes.
He was about to call out to her, but caught himself in time, remembering how much water had flowed under the bridge since he and Sadie had been alone. Amazing. Just think about it, he is so young and the weight of the last years is pressing on his shoulders. And boy, did he completely forget that he despises her. “Time”, he wondered, “is a secret with seven seals”. And immediately he corrected himself: “No, time is a mathematically calculated value, but the heart, or rather the part of the brain responsible for the work of the heart, is the secret behind seven seals.”
Having admired the publicity that had spellbound the crowd, Sadie turned and headed for the Red Line subway platform. The train was approaching the platform.
– SADI! Sam yelled, unable to contain himself, but his cry was drowned out by the roar of an arriving train and the usual human racket of the subway.
A teenage girl, hoping to earn extra money, played something incendiary avant-garde on the cello. A man in a patterned vest politely asked passersby if they would have a free moment for Muslim refugees from Srebrenica. Sadie took up a position next to a stand selling six-dollar fruit smoothies, and the moment Sam called out to her, the blender came to life, filling the stuffy, stuffy subway air with the scent of citrus and strawberries.
“Sadie Green!” she screamed again.
And again she did not listen to him. She picked up her pace as best she could. Strange: every time she increased her pace, it seemed to her that she was participating in a stupid couples race and her leg was firmly attached to her partner’s leg.
“Sadie!” SADIE! he yelled at himself, feeling like a fool. — SADI MIRANDA GREEN! YOU DIED OF DYSENTERY!
Thank God, he turned around. She looked carefully around the crowd, noticed Sam, and her lips slowly, like blooming roses in a slow-motion movie Sam had seen in high school physics class, curved into a smile. Charming and, worried Sam, a little fake. With a beaming smile, a dimple in her cheek, and a small gap between her upper teeth, Sadie approached him and, as Sam imagined, the crowd immediately ran in different directions, a miracle she had never accomplished on her own.