THE HOUSE OF THE boy who loves Albert Einstein is located out in the far suburbs, on a street that dead ends into the fence of a farm. In the driveway is parked a silver-colored van and outside is a trailer and inside is the boy himself. He is wearing his Einstein T-shirt -- "E=MC2" -- LOOKING STUDIOUS AND SERIOUS, BOOKISH AND BRIGHT, EXPLAINING IN HIS OWN WAY THAT IT IS NOT EASY TO BE 10 years old and a fan of Albert Einstein. It takes, I'll have you know, a measure of courage.
The boy stands in the middle of his room. He is average in height, dark-haired and wears glasses. His expressions is serious. His words often very precise. His vocabulary broad. Around him are his books -- lots of books. He reads a lot, he says. On the walls are pictures. There are framed pictures of Albert Einstein, some of them taken from the covers of magazines. There are also pictures of Abraham Lincoln and one of Spiderman.
"Together, Paul Kramer and I can meet any challenge," says the balloon over Spiderman's head. The boy's uncle made the Spiderman drawing. The boy's name is Paul Kramer.
"I am probably Einstein's greatest fan," he says. His mother, in the living room, agrees. "The kids tease him," says his mother. They call him Einstein Junior." It was his mother who called me because her son had written a letter to the newspaper saying that school children should be taught about Albert Einstein. She read me the letter. 'In school we are taught about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and Franklin Roosevelt," he wrote in part. "I think Einstein's work is enough to learn about him, too."
Paul Kramer has tried to tell his friends about Einstein, but most of them don't care. He knows they love television, so he has told them that Einstein's theories somehow connect to television, but they are largely unimpressed. He has written poems about Einstein and collected magazine articles and traced pictures. Downstairs, on a small computer his father rigged up, Paul Kramer has devised a program that makes the device light up in the image of Albert Einstein. To Paul Kramer, Albert Einstein bats from both sides of the plate. He is the MVP of all times -- an all-star of all-stars, a combination athlete and rock star and maybe something more.
This month is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Albert Einstein. Make a toast. Here was a man who looked at the universe and saw it different than anyone had before. He was a scientist, a genius, -- in a way an artist. He created. Before him it was different, although I am never sure exactly how. I have trouble with the world being round -- tell me again how they're not upside down in Australia. Tell me again about those clocks in space. Tell me again about relativity and quantum theories.
"Do you understand the theories?" I asked Paul Kramer. He nods and points to the lettering on his yellow T-shirt. "E stands for energy, M stands for mass. The C stands for the speed of light squared."
"Yes," I say, "but what does it mean?"
He's not exactly sure. We go on to the theory of relativity and he botches it.
"If two astronauts are in a rocket and each has a clock in the rocket set at exactly the same time when they come down one would be a couple of minutes younger than the other. For some reason. I think." He walks across the room and points to an illustration of the relativity toeory in Time magazine. "It's illustrated here," he says.
Paul Kramer would prefer to tell you about Einstein's life. He would prefer to tell you about a man who had time to help school children solve their problems, who hated wars and loved peace, who believed in Jews, if not Judaism, who hated pomposity, formality and who knew that the foulest thing you could do to a man is to tell him how to think -- that real courage is the courage to be different. In his own ways, Paul Kramer is different. Sometimes that's not easy. Einstein knew that. That's why Paul Kramer loves Einstein.
"Do you read the encyclopedia?" I asked, pointing to them.
He nods yes.
"I mean just read them for the fun of it."
He nods. Yes, he reads them to put himself to sleep.
Later this month, on the 14th, when the world remembers the birthday of Albert Einstein with toasts and speeches and unveiling of statues, Paul Kramer will go down to Carvelles and have them make a cake that says, "Happy Birthday Einstein." He will eat it with his friends, if they come, and certainly with his family and then he will go back to the street that dead ends into the farm and the house with the silver-colored van in the driveway. It's a house no different than most, but he's a boy different from most.
He's a boy with the courage to be an Einstein fan.