Sunday, December 9, 2012

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

I started Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything and read this description of Sir Isaac Newton:

“Newton was a decidedly odd figure—brilliant beyond measure, but solitary, joyless, prickly to the point of paranoia, famously distracted (upon swinging his feet out of bed in the morning he would reportedly sometimes sit for hours, immobilized by the sudden rush of thoughts to his head), and capable of the most riveting strangeness.”

Boy, can I relate to getting immobilized by the whirlpool of thoughts in my head. The difference is that my thoughts aren’t changing the world.

The more I read about Newton’s quirkiness, the more I want to invite him over for dinner. And quirkiness at the dinner table reminds me of a fellow I knew eons ago in Chicago.

I was paying him (I believed) to get a job for me; he took my money to…I don’t know, coach me into getting a job myself? (This was long before life and business coaches came into vogue. I was ahead of the trends and didn’t realize it.) Our mismatched goals made for a hopeless situation.

However, the fellow—who had connections with movers and shakers everywhere—held dinner parties at least monthly that focused not on the food but on the guests. The fellow delighted in seating diverse and visionary minds of all disciplines at his table and watching sparks fly. He never mentioned names, but sometimes shared the results of these mixers with me if there was a lesson in it for me.

You probably have a long list of people—living and dead, famous and otherwise—you’d like to have a conversation with. I know I do. Close your eyes now and randomly pick a name from your list. Who is it? I’m curious about the kind of party we could have if each Lull reader brought someone from his/her fantasy list.

I’ll start the game with someone else from my list: my great-great-grandmother whose physical shape (but apparently not her world view) I’ve inherited and who performed in a rodeo.

Now it’s your turn: Tell me who’s coming to dinner. I’ll get out the Fiestaware.

[The End of Dinner by Jules-Alexandre Grün.]


C. J. Jackson said...

A Lull reader e-mailed me this morning to say she'd invite Maggie Smith to the table. So far, so good: Isaac Newton, a female rodeo rider from the 1800s, and Ms. Smith.

C. J. Jackson said...

Today, several Lull readers wrote in to add Dave Brubeck, Howlin' Wolf, Nelson Mandela, and Abraham Lincoln to our mix. Now we're cookin'!

C. J. Jackson said...

Our guest list continues to grow: Buck Brannaman, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Ezra Pound, and Temple Grandin. Lull readers may be shy about commenting publicly, but they're bold in their thoughts and desires.

C. J. Jackson said...

Ruth Reichl just went on the list.

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