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Counting Sheep

Mar 27, 2016 | Curbside Consults


We meet over coffee, smiling with crossed arms over the creamer. She wears a woolen white dress with a bright pattern of squares in primary colors—like a Mondrian painting, a large bag over one shoulder. Under the other arm there’s a folded outfit, a costume of sorts. She omits a mysterious scent, part musk, part Catskill Game Farm.

“Half and Half?” I offer.

“Whole Milk for me.”

“I personally prefer soy.”

“Milk allergy?”

“No, lactose intolerance.”

“One of God’s punishments,” she laughs.

I smile politely and sit down to enjoy my coffee. Instinctively, she joins me at the small table.

She seems religious in a mystical thirteenth century kind of way–religious and attractive.

“Is coffee a habit of yours?”

“I have a lot of bad habits,” I smile. “The most expensive is my collection of naval

blueprints. I’m fascinated with shipbuilding. Is that a habit under your arm?”

“Nun of your business,” she smiles. “I’d like you to join me to experience Louis Andriessen’s De Materie. It’s playing fifteen minutes from now. Across the street.”

“In the armory?”

“Drill Hall. Quite a sacred space. Are you allergic to sheep?”

“No but I used to have nightmares about Madame Curie.”

“You should overcome your fear. You’ll learn a lot.”

“I’m also a bit behind in my study of Plakkaat van Verlatinghe.”

“The Dutch Declaration of Independence? Come on. Everyone knows the basics. Common knowledge,” she teases. “1581 The Hague. ‘As it is apparent to all that a prince is constituted by God to be a ruler of a people, to defend them from oppression and violence as the shepherd his sheep.’”

“That’s another thing, what will I learn staring at a hundred frightened sheep on a dark wooden floor with a lit zeppelin hovering over them—like a shepherding drone.”

“We learn much from the geopolitical ramification of the herd. It mirrors our xenophobic fears and our predilection for mob mentality. It’s also touching to observe them—the sheep—in all their innocence, seeking safety in numbers.”

“Okay.” I give in.

We cross the street together and things will never be the same.


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© Richie Smith 

© Richie Smith