HENRY DAVID THOREAU knocks on a door. RALPH WALDO EMERSON answers it.

EMERSON: What a grand pleasure to see you, my intellectual friend! How goes your afternoon?

THOREAU: Ah, it goes, it goes, friend Ralph. But tell me --

EMERSON: Have you, perhaps, discovered some brilliant new tenet of naturalism?

THOREAU: Well --

EMERSON: Or cross-analyzed humanity's tendency to complicate its own existence through unjust forms of mass government?

THOREAU: Actually, I've been living in a shack in the woods.

EMERSON: Ahem. I see. So, what brings you here?

THOREAU: Well, you see, amid my ponderings -- do I smell fried chicken?

EMERSON: Yes, my wife just cooked it. But continue, continue. Your ponderings?

THOREAU: Uh, yes. You understand, as I was considering the, uh, fundamental whaddayacallums of human nature, I realized that, uh, people -- I'm sorry, but that smell is truly engrossing. Might I trouble you for a bite of that delicious poultry?

EMERSON: But wouldn't that conflict with your goal of independence and self-sufficiency?

THOREAU: Well, yes, but you see, it smells so delightful --

LYDIA EMERSON (from inside): Is that damned Henry Thoreau at the door?

EMERSON: Yes, dear, I'm afraid it is.

LYDIA: Well, tell him to come back when his transcendentalist philosophy includes a job!


EMERSON: You heard the lady. Go eat berries, or whatever it is you do. (Door slams.)

THOREAU: Blast. Perhaps this sacrifice will lead to great intellectual discovery. Or perhaps Lydia has left open the kitchen window... (He exits.)