If you never read Life of Pi but still want to walk away with at least one fact, something you can share if someone ever bring it up, it would be this. It won’t make you sound smart, but it definitely won’t make you sound clueless either. Pi, the main character, is named after a pool. No, really. His full first name is actually Piscine. which is the French word for “Pool”. If you want extra points, you can say that his full name is Piscine Molitor Patel. His father respected a man who was a huge fan of pools and of swimming.
There’s a memorable scene in the book where Piscine decides to no longer be called by his full first name. It seems that schoolchildren are cruel, regardless of the culture they’re in. Upon switching schools, he decided that he would rename himself Pi, a shortened version of his name and the mathematical constant, pi. To make the idea stick that first day of class, he would walk up to the board during each teacher’s roll call and write down his new name on the board, complete with the math sign and 3.14. By the end of the day, every student and teacher in his class knew him as Pi.
I think I remember it mostly because it’s something that I can personally identify with. Having a multi-syllable name, I often struggle with which name I should use to introduce myself. Should I say my full name and watch the other person struggle to grasp it? Should I go with the nickname? Are nicknames supposed to be reserved for friends and family or should it be the other way around? What’s the protocol? Is there protocol?
This makes networking sessions very fun. And by fun, I mean, not so much.