the man who loved numbers (2) an unamused epsilon

Erdös still did not see his friends, but his anger was gone - his arm dropped to his side – as he heard the high-pitched squeal of a small boy, who was dining with his parents. "An epsilon!" said Erdös. (Epsilon was Erdös's word for a small child; in mathematics that Greek letter is used to represent small quantities.) Erdös moved slowly the child, navigating not so much sight by the sound of the boy's voice.

"Hello," he said, as he reached his ratty grey overcoat and pulled out a bottle of Benzedrine. He dropped the bottle from shoulder height and with the same hand caught it split second later.

The epsilon was not all amused but, perhaps to be polite, his parents made a big show applauding. Erdös repeated the trick a few more times and then he was rescued by Ronald Graham, a mathematician the American phone company AT&T, who called him to the table where he and Erdös's other friends were waiting. Graham was not only Erdös's friend and colleague but his minder; he handled all his finances and correspondence.

The waitress arrived and Erdös, after inquiring each item on the long menu, ordered fried squid balls. While the waitress took the rest of the orders, Erdös turned his place mat and drew a tiny sketch vaguely resembling a rocket passing a hula-hoop. His four dining companions leaned forward to get a better view of the drawing. "There are still many edges that will destroy chromatic number three," said Erdös. "This edge destroys bipartiteness." With that pronouncement, Erdös closed his eyes and seemed to fall asleep.