Please wait until the ride has come to a full and complete stop: My brother's life with schizophrenia

My wife had a very weird public school experience. She was identified as “gifted” in grade 3 and went to a different school until the end of high school.

In the gifted program, she met some very, very interesting characters. If nothing else, this left her with a list of stories to tell of brilliant but amazingly awkward teenage classmates.

One of those was Eli. Eli was one of the best math minds of his age. Eli also struggled to dress himself, for example.

My wife even heard stories about Eli after he went to university on a full scholarship. Things like he didn’t even go to classes that didn’t interest him - he’d just show up to the tests and exam and ace them. One class, he wrote the wrong final exam. He aced it anyway, but it took a lot of arm twisting to keep his scholarship.

Eli was known to just get on a bike and ride. Not particularly athletic, he’d ride any old bike, any distance. Once he rode to Winnipeg, I think? I don’t know if he told anyone, or even planned it. He slept by the side of the road.

I met Eli once while I was dating my wife. It was a get-together between second and third year university for her “gifted” friends. Somehow, we ended up in a field in Scarborough playing softball. We then went out to lunch. At lunch, Eli and another math guy got into a debate about quantum mechanics. I protested. They switched to baseball. But what they were trying to work out was how to play it on a vertical plane. I was visibly upset. Baseball is played on a field, which is a horizontal plane, and always will be. No conversations were close to “normal” that day. I kinda enjoyed them, but keeping up was difficult. I was acutely aware that I was the dumbest person in the room. Some people will insist that happens often to me, but this was extreme.

We were recounting these funny stories a few weeks ago, when I decided to look him up. I was sure he’d be a math prof somewhere. Instead, I found Eli’s obituary. Eli drowned in Lake Ontario 10 years ago. Apparently his brain, always odd, completely broke during university. Maybe that’s why we stopped hearing about him.

His sister wrote a book. I’m buying it for my wife. I’ll probably read it as well:

Book ordered.

My wife just confirmed the story that Eli was at that lunch and was discussing the game of “vertical baseball” with a physics nerd from the same group of friends, and that this upset me greatly.

Sometimes I question my recall of things like this because they seem so absurd.

Some links:

An excerpt from the book above:

Winners of the Canadian Mathematical Olympiad. This is the top high school math competition, with one winner per year for all of Canada. See 1989.

Google will give you other math contest results from high school and university. As well as his missing person report.

I only met the guy once. I don’t think my wife is terribly surprised. But he was a clever bastard and I secretly enjoyed the vertical baseball discussion.