Though he is widely respected for being an extraordinary mathematical thinker, Erdos was also something of a freak
, if his biographies
are to be believed. He was apparently incapable of many of lifes simplest tasks: Fellow mathematician
and friend Ronald Graham
recounted tales of Erdos (pronounced "Air-dish") asking for help trimming his toe nails, or having such difficulty opening a can of tomato
soup with a can opener that he spilt most of it all over the kitchen floor. Erdos himself told of how he shocked himself by learning late in life to butter his own bread, stating: "It wasn't that hard."
Also of note were his sarcastic ideas of God. As mentioned above, according to Erdos, God possessed a book with a transinfinite integer of pages, which contained all the most elegant mathematical theorems in reality. It was sacred duty of every mathematician to steal a glimpse into the book whenever possible, but God made this job exceedingly difficult at times. This thought is underlined by Erdos' calling God the SF, which stood for "Supreme Fascist".
Erdos would often joke that the SF played a rigged game with humanity, much like a sick game show. Whenever a person did an immoral thing, a point was scored against her. When a person knew the right thing to do, but didn't do it, a point was scored against her. Yet, if a person actually DID do the right thing, she didn't score. The point of the game was that humanity couldn't possibly win, so the only way to do well was keep the score against them as low as possible over the course of their lives.