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Five conversation starters to help you avoid Thanksgiving drama

Need to steer the table talk away from the election or the pandemic? These are the questions you should ask to distract your family


"Every Thanksgiving comes with small talk. Here are five conversation starters that'll help you avoid drama." Illustration published Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020.

Thanksgiving is a time for traditions: turkey and cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and ice cream, wishbones and Black Friday sales. But despite all that has changed in the year since last Thanksgiving, one tradition remains constant: trying to avoid getting into an argument with your relatives.

Thankfully, your Thanksgiving might be Zoom-based this year. But unfortunately, that itself might spark some comments from a particularly annoying cousin. So to help you avoid that, I’ve come up with five conversation starters to send you down a conversational rabbit hole far, far away from the pandemic, the election and anything else that’ll make you want to drown yourself in the gravy boat.

Was math discovered or invented?

Is math a universal constant that we stumbled upon and discovered the rules along the way? If aliens came to Earth, would they use the same math as us? Or did humans come up with our own system of numbers, symbols and rules, and then create more rules and formulas based on those made-up systems? Is there a universal system? How would the world change if we were using the wrong math? How would the world change if we switched?

If you put milk in cereal, is the milk broth or sauce?

OK so hear me out. You have a bowl of cereal, and you put some milk in your bowl. Does the milk become the primary ingredient, with the cereal as support (thus making the milk a broth)? Or does the cereal become better with the milk (thus making the milk a sauce)?

One way to approach this would be that not a lot of milk in your bowl makes it about the cereal, and a lot of milk in your bowl makes it about the milk. So, where in the amount of milk in your bowl does it go from a sauce to a broth? Is there an equilibrium? Are you a milk as a broth person or a milk as a sauce person?

What would Nikola Tesla think of a Baja Blast Freeze?

This one is great because it’s very open-ended and is defined by how you frame the details of Tesla encountering the Baja Blast Freeze. Is he brought into the future and into a Taco Bell and handed a Baja Blast Freeze? Did Tesla even know what a taco was? Or is someone going back in time and showing up with a Baja Blast Freeze for him? Would he be amazed at tasting something that is an unnatural flavor? Would he get distracted by the plastic cup? Would he like it, or is he more of a Wild Strawberry Freeze guy?

Should people who like Superman Ice Cream be allowed to vote?

For those of you who don’t know, Superman Ice Cream is an ice cream made of a swirl of red, yellow and blue ice creams. These three colors are supposed to look like Superman’s uniform when mixed together, hence the name.

“But what flavor is Superman ice cream?” I hear you ask. It’s Superman flavor. “No, no,” you clarify, “what flavors are the red and yellow and blue ice creams that make up the Superman flavor?” Oh, that’s funny! They’re not flavors. It’s not cherry ice cream, yellow vanilla ice cream and blueberry ice cream mixed together. They are just red and yellow and blue ice cream. That’s it. And they taste like Superman flavor. 

And for those of you out there who are going to try and challenge me by saying that the blue ice cream is Blue Moon flavored and the red ice cream is Red Pop flavored, I ask you: What are Blue Moon and Red Pop?

Obviously, anyone who chooses to eat this abomination of their own volition is a danger to society. Their penchant for things that taste like something not real is pretty horrifying. So, I ask you now, should these people be allowed to vote? What if they come together and create a Superman Ice Cream party? What kind of world would we be living in then?

Is Whataburger a nothing place with no people that’s been around for no time?

Think about this one for a second. Have you ever been inside a Whataburger? If yes, do you really remember anything about it? If no, have you ever even met anyone who has? Have you ever looked inside a Whataburger and seen a line? Is anything about Whataburger real? Can you picture the food, the menus, the employee uniforms? 

Whenever you see a Whataburger, it always takes you by surprise. Has it always been there and you never noticed it? Or is that a brand new location? Are they open? There are cars in the parking lot, but they aren’t close enough to the building to belong to the workers. Whataburger exists in limbo.

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