Friday, July 25, 2008

Socrates: Gorgias, I am most ignorant regarding these affairs. I would appreciate—for you are my friend, as you say—any aid in making headway. As Homer says, “Xanthos by himself does not flow to the sea.”

Gorgias: I will do my best, Socrates.

Socrates: I suppose you know, that it’s hard out here for a pimp?

Gorgias: Most certainly, Socrates.

Socrates: Especially, as the Oracle says, “when he tryin’ to get this money for the rent.”

Gorgias: Who can deny it?

Socrates: Indeed. And if it follows, as spring does the sparrow’s call, then surely we must agree that such affairs are difficult—the cause being one might say, were one inspired by one’s daemon, “for the Cadillacs and gas money spent.”

Gorgias: Of course.

Socrates: Because, I think, a whole lot of bitches talkin’ shit.

Gorgias: It cannot be any other way, Socrates.

Socrates: Surely, then, If we were to use the old saying, “Men find Piraeus only when they are well for rowing,” could we not say—without meanness, I implore—that truly, the gentleman of Athens spoken of in this song will have a whole lot of bitches jumpin’ ship?

Gorgias: I must grant your meaning.

Socrates: I thank you for your grant, Gorgias. It was given, and taken, with friendship. Now, would it please you to answer, with what are the eyes concerned?

Gorgias: With sight, Socrates.

Socrates: I am glad to hear it; so would you object that, in my eyes, I done seen some crazy thangs in the streets?

Gorgias: No.

Socrates: Or that even in great Athens, I gotta couple girl workin’ on the changes for me?

Gorgias: I expect next, Socrates, you’ll want me to agree that I gotta keep my game tight, like glorious Achilles, or Kobe on game night.

Socrates: You are far too clever for me, Gorgias. But such an act would be “like takin’ from a girl don’t know no better, I know that ain’t right.”

Gorgias: This is the poet’s truth, I am forced to admit.

Socrates: I ought to add that I think our poet gives to Kobe the Nemean lion’s hide too soon. Still, can one deny these were true words of the god? Now, If one has a judgment of right, as you have granted—if one has done seen people killed, done seen people deal, done seen people live in poverty with no meals—might one say, like Archilochus, “It’s messed up where I live, but that’s just how it is.”

Gorgias: Yes, but rhetoric strains against this, Socrates.

Socrates: Strain it may; yet I would have you grant that it might be new to you, but it’s been like this for years.

Gorgias: You ain’t knowin’.

Socrates: Indeed, and I have often said so. But look, Gorgias! I see that here comes our friend, Meno. He has been talking with his fellow merchants, I think.

Meno: Greetings, Gorgias. I see Socrates has enwrapped you in his net, like a fisherman.

Gorgias: Alas! It’s blood, sweat, and tears when it come down to this shit.

Socrates: And you, Meno, how have you fared this day?

Meno: O, Socrates. Again you ply your craft—a traveling fortuneteller! In truth, I’m tryin to get rich ’fore I leave up out this bitch. I’m tryin to have thangs …

Socrates: “But it’s hard fo’ a pimp.” Yes, we were just discussing this. Ignorant man that I am, I am still in the dark. But I’m prayin’ and I’m hopin’ to God I don’t slip, yeah.

Meno: Quote your “daemon” again, Socrates; I think you have made this a habit!

Socrates: Your mind is much too fast for this old man, Meno. I remember that we met last at the Greater Dionysus, when Aristophanes showed his “Clouds,” where I was shown quite the fool. It seems, by the dog, like I’m duckin’ dodgin’ bullets everyday.

Meno: I too feel this lash, Socrates. Niggaz hatin’ on me cause I got, girls on the tray.

Socrates: I would urge you cast the player-haters away, Meno, as Odysseus did the rivals who were making so much trouble for him at home. Now, if you will answer me a question, I will be glad to yield to you. Must one gotta stay paid?

Meno: Of course.

Socrates: And it follows, that one gotta stay above water?

Meno: I see where the track of your mind falls, Socrates, but I will say, “Aye.”

Socrates: We shall take owls to Athens yet, Meno. Now, if one cannot keep up with girls, must things of necessity get harder?

Meno: Yes, if one is, as Peleus’ son was, from the deme of North Memphis, and to Seventh Street bound.

Socrates: Only to Corinth, I think. There people all the time end up lost and never found.

Meno: Your reasoning is iron, Socrates. I think you quote the poets to impress your friends’ wives!

Socrates: Accuse me not, my friend. O man, these girls think we prove thangs. Leave a big head.

Meno: Like Silenus, Socrates! I wonder at these prophecies of yours, Socrates. If I grant them, as you wish me to, I am apt to say that men are compelled to, in the agora or assembly, play the chorus and again tell all who pass by that, indeed, “it is hard out there for a pimp.”

Socrates: That again, Meno, is too ambiguous for us; I am still in the dark: for which are the greatest and best of human things? I dare say that you have heard men singing at feasts the old drinking song— “it’s tricky,” they say, “tricky, tricky, tricky” —or perhaps the hymn in which the singers enumerate the goods of life, first health, beauty next, thirdly, as the writer of the song says, wealth honestly obtained. For such well-esteemed things are the lot of pimps.

Gorgias: Certainly pimps may expect as much.

Socrates: Then, returning the difficulty of “leave a big head,” if we should follow, as is our duty as men who love truth, might one may hope every night that both do not end up dead?

Gorgias: Just so.

Socrates: And Meno: Does not this art, which we were just now mentioning, allow for a snow bunny and a black girl too?

Meno: Just so.

Socrates: Assuming this line of inquiry, it is the same: you pay the right price and they’ll both do you?

Gorgias: You are coming into encomium, Socrates.

Socrates: For this I must apologize; for my dameon cries out with the god’s voice, as it ever has: “Socrates, you must be to the noble city of Athens as a gadfly is to a magnificent steed. Make men seek truth and virtue, not merely wealth.” And, fool that I am, I must obey. That’s the way the game goes. O, men of Athens! For the good man’s part, he gotta keep it strictly pimpin’; he gotta, of needs, keep his hustle tight. For it cannot be any other way, but makin’ change off these women, yeah.

Meno: Well said, Socrates. You have waxed most poetic.

Gorgias: Anything you say is right, Socrates.

Socrates: I thank you, friends. Shall we dine?

Jason Rhode is from Lubbock, Texas, and writes for The Lawton Constitution in Lawton, Oklahoma. He has been published by McSweeney’s, The Comics Journal, Eyeshot, Metaphilm, Radio Free Metropolis, Colin Morse, and has been known to occasionally blog at He knows Andre, locks left, quotes in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus, and one day will command all the good lads in Eastcheap. Alan Moore once called him “mate.” He met you at a very odd time in his life.

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