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Sport 40: 2012

Cheese and Socks

Cheese and Socks

Recently I bought some cheese, a particularly expensive piece of cheese, and standing in front of the refrigerator I cut off a slice, which was delicious. The evening of this same day, that piece of cheese was no longer in the refrigerator, nor was it in any of the cupboards, on the table, in the freezer, or even in the tool chest, in the washing machine, among the linens or on the balcony. It wasn’t in the oven either. It had actually disappeared—disappeared so completely that there wasn’t even the hint of a smell in the days and weeks that followed, coming from some corner I might have overlooked while searching for my piece of cheese. I ask my mother, who knows her way around my household quite well: Have you seen that cheese, by any chance? She says no. I say: Might you have thrown it away? My mother says no.

The very same thing happened to my son with the little book that was always kept in the bathroom for reading aloud during his longer sessions: Surviving in Situations You Will Probably Never Encounter. Included here are instructions for fending off crocodiles, sharks, and pumas, how to climb from a motorcycle into a car at top speed, tips on how to proceed when your parachute fails, etc. We used to spend a lot of time studying this little book, so much time in fact that I was already starting to feel bored whenever the page with the shark came up, and preferred rolling down the windows while driving across a frozen lake so the water pressure would equalise if the car sank—after which it would be child’s play to exit the car at the bottom of the lake. But all at once this book disappeared. It is not to be found anywhere on the shelf or in the recycling bin, it didn’t slip behind the radiator, nor into the basket of dirty laundry. I ask my mother: Have you seen page 243 our little yellow book, by any chance? She says no.

The third thing to disappear—but this is nothing out of the ordinary—is the one sock from my favorite pair. I’ve heard that in probability theory there is a law known as the Law of Disappearing Socks, devised to address this very phenomenon—phenomenon being the Greek word for ‘appearance’. Which now brings me to my hope: What I hope is that when things disappear in one place, this necessarily implies their appearance someplace else, in other words, I hope that a world exists in which my sock, stuffed with the expensive piece of cheese, plummets from an extremely high bridge and survives the fall. On my way to visit Maria, who goes by Mietzel, I have to drive through the hollow, down into the deepest, coldest part of the road, a sharp curve where it’s easy to lose traction in the wintertime, and then back up the other side of the hollow, turning right at the Cross Inn and then continuing along the edge of the woods Mietzel helped plant thirty years ago, and on the meadow that borders the edge of these woods, deer can often be seen after dark, standing there blinded by my headlights as if turned to stone. Today, in the sunshine, two figures are walking toward me: a portly mother with her grown daughter, who displays equal girth, the two of them holding hands.