LAIUS: Pardon my delay, Socrates! And thank you for being such a gracious host on this feast of thanks! My chariot got delayed at Crete. I had to wait at Terminal B for two hours and I was not going to pay 43 drachmas for that pita bread with cheese the Etruscans sell.
SOCRATES: Enter, Laius. You must be famished! The turkey is nearly ready, but please help yourself to some sides.
LAIUS: Thank you for being such a gracious host, Socrates, but seeing as I have waited so long I’d rather wait for the turkey to be ready.
SOCRATES: Do you not favor the sides? We have casserole of green beans slathered in Campbellios’s cream of mushroom soup and laden with Funyuns, sweet potato candied with sugar, and potatoes mashed and covered with fine goat cheese.
LAIUS: Gracious host, the sides look delicious, but without the central dish of turkey, they and the meal itself are incomplete. The turkey is, as they say, the reason for the season.
SOCRATES: I applaud the conviction of a man such as you, Laius. Certainly, you know your desires, but what about one who would believe, which the same fervor as you do, that the sides are what completes the meal? That the turkey is but the cornerstone of the meal, and that like most cornerstones it is rather unassuming when surrounded by the architectural beauty of a completed edifice? Wouldn’t you say that the sides are better than the turkey?
LAIUS: Socrates, you mad devil, you cannot claim that the sides supersede the fowl! The sides’ name implies that they are not a real meal. They are to go beside the meal!
SOCRATES: I understand your reasoning, Laius. And I believe you an educated man.
LAIUS: Thank you.
SOCRATES: However, an educated man can be wrong. As you are right now.
LAIUS: You dare!
SOCRATES: I do! For your reasoning would tell us that Thanksgiving requires bird and bird alone.
LAIUS: Yes! All the sides are impure. Tactless additions. Disposals of waste. Their forms unworthy, malleable like the mashed potatoes and the yams. Turkey is wholesome, traditional and delicious.
SOCRATES: And what makes turkey delicious?
LAIUS: Why its non-assuming flavor. It blends fantastically with gravy to create what can only be described as “ambrosia.”
SOCRATES: Ah yes, the gravy. It’s flavor is verily a delight fit for the gods.
LAIUS: Yes. The more gravy, the better.
SOCRATES: But wouldn’t you say that the gravy is a side?
LAIUS: Hark? No, it is a dressing to adorn, not a side to crowd.
SOCRATES: Is it part of the turkey itself like a leg or a breast?
LAIUS: Well, no.
SOCRATES: Where is the gravy commonly served?
LAIUS: Well, it can go on the turkey as any ornamentation.
SOCRATES: It can, yes. But one tends to eat the meal of Thanksgiving surrounded by loved ones and women.
SOCRATES: And if one is surrounded by friends (a turkey to their potatoes and casserole, one might say), wouldn’t one as a gracious host want to distribute the gravy graciously?
LAIUS: Of course.
SOCRATES: And if I wanted to share the gravy with you, Laius, where would I place it on the table?
LAIUS: To the side of the turkey, I concede. In a small amphora. But this is not how you eat it, Socrates. We are speaking of the food’s position on the plate — not the table. Surely you are not so bold as to brazenly change the course of the discussion to serve your own purpose?
SOCRATES: In one swift accusation you have fallen so far. You question my integrity and dismiss those who place turkey and sides in one forkful in the same breath. Separate on the plate, to be sure — their very names denote this adjacent placement. But on the fork, in the mouth, the stomach even — they are just as much a compliment as your precious gravy.
LAIUS: Socrates, I am hungry.
SOCRATES: Yes, indeed you are starved of wisdom.
LAIUS: Socrates, I did not come to your home to be insulted.
SOCRATES: Have you heard of Apollodorus of Elea?
LAIUS: Of course, he won last year’s Athens theatre festival with his play on the sad man with a secret known but to the audience.
SOCRATES: And did you see the plays?
LAIUS: Of course, I was there.
SOCRATES: And what was it that captured you the most?
LAIUS: Ion’s performance as the slave!
SOCRATES: And what of the scene where Apollo descends from Olympus on his golden chariot?
LAIUS: It was splendid! Never had I have seen someone be able to do such a special effect on the stage, but Socrates, can we not talk theatre over dinner?
SOCRATES: So was it Apollodorus’ words that made the play a success or was it the actors’ performance and the miraculous special effects?
LAIUS: I guess, it was a combination of all?
SOCRATES: So the “sides” of the play were as important as the meat, the words?
LAIUS: I’ll indulge it??? Socrates, please, I starve.
SOCRATES: And wouldn’t you say that by having white and dark meat coexist, turkey is, in itself, but two sides?
LAIUS: Either one will do, just please let me partake.
SOCRATES: There is dark. There is light. One cannot exist without the other.
SOCRATES: And we are thankful for both.
LAIUS: Fine, yes I concede the sides make the meal, can we consume now, good man?
SOCRATES: I am glad you admit it. For I have charred the turkey, so please, enjoy the sides.