“Of course he’s a doctor. Of course,” Pete thought to himself, the online search result’s reflection illuminating his glass’s lenses. As he thought back to first meeting Winn, now Dr. Winn, all those years ago, shame overwhelmed him. The poor kid had done nothing wrong, unless taking an elective math class two years earlier than normal was a sin.
He remembered seeing Winn sitting alone on the first day of statistics class. An elective, the class’s description and teacher only seduced enough students to fill just over half the seats. This made it all the more easy for the band of underachieving smart-ass seniors to gain the strength numbers offer so readily. More than in response to the layout of the room, though, these students acted in response to the primal fear of the unknown, a fear provoked by a spindly limbed, one-size-too-big-t-shirt wearing, buzz-cut sporting, wire-rimmed-glasses-at-the-time-of-contacts bearing pasty white kid who didn’t seem even remotely aware that he would always have the upper hand. He would always have the upper hand not because of his intelligence, though his brain always operated near-capacity notwithstanding it originated from a culture infatuated with lowering standards, no. It was because he was free. Free from posturing, free from politicking, free from maneuvering. While everyone around him struggled to fit in, he simply stayed the course. He embodied Mark Twain’s “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
Despite having to display his driver’s license to prove the spelling of his name to the groupthink, Winn never lowered himself to counter-attack. And his focus never faltered. Almost a machine, one day he was tasked by the seniors to further elucidate a particular problem’s solution. He approached the chalkboard as if unaware that public math was never good math, and proceeded to slowly draw a for-all-intents-and-purposes perfect circle with the chalk. The display silenced everyone, until the sound of two palms rapidly and repeatedly coming together overwhelmed the smack that accompanies jaws quickly dropping.
The highlight of that semester, however, came when Winn surprised everyone, including Mrs. Tietz, with a piece of mail. Antagonistic, he was not. Yet, when the opportunity came to prove that Nielsen ratings did not come from set families as she thought, but instead from invited and bribed self-reporting as Pete knew, Winn took the side of the truth. And in presenting the envelope, dollar bill still packaged within, he not only climbed the social ladder, but advanced hope. Long live Winn!