1441 c/o Crispin Best

A White Cloak with a Black ‘X’

There is a black man and a white man. The black man is wearing a white cloak. The white man is wearing a black cloak. The white cloak has a black ‘x’ on the back. The black cloak has a white ‘o’ on the back. The two men are alone together in a large room. Candles are burning. Incense is burning. The two men nod and bow. The man in the black cloak speaks,

o       “Our religion dictates that when we laugh, we must laugh until exclamation marks come out of our mouths.”

x       “Our religion has no such decree, but our religion forbids laughter at trivial things.”

       The room smells like a church. The two men look at each other. They speak slowly.

o       “Our religion understands that the banana is the atheist’s nightmare.”

x       “Our religion understands that fact also.”

o       “Our religion states all sleeping bags must smell somewhat like genital parts.”

x       “When it is cold, followers of our religion sometimes choose to wear gloves.”

       The preparations have taken over a decade. They want to join each other, the two religions. They want to team up.

o       “In our religion it is worse to swallow another man’s sperm than to kiss him hard on the mouth.”

x      “Ours is the same.”

o      “Our religion rejects the historical existence of Vikings.”

x       “Ours rejects pterodactyls.”

       The two men smile.

o       “Ours rejects yeast at all times.”

x       “Our religion rejects skiing”

o       “Followers of our religion only rarely eat the bones of animals”

x       “Our religion takes the Eucharist but we use s’mores and warm milk.”

o       “The central dictum of our religion is: ‘Don‘t Be a Knucklehead’”

x       “Ours is: ‘Ride Your Socks Hard’”

o       “I like your central dictum.”

x       “Thanks. Yours is OK also.”

       The talks go on for weeks. The two men like each other. Sometimes the men sleep. Other times they wear their cloaks and talk. They stand in the room that smells like a church and they tell each other about their religion. They look at each other. They want their religions to join together. They want to team up. But in the end they don’t. They talk and they like each other’s cloaks and they listen and they smile and they want to join up. And they don’t.