This idea was just too good to resist, so here's my list of ten people I'd like to have dinner with. (By the way, these are ten separate dinners, not one big one where everyone's at the same table and you don't get any good one-on-one time. Screw that. This is all about the intimate conversations where I learn all their secrets. And I'll be sure to get everyone appropriately liquored up, to loosen their tongues.)
In no particular order:
1. Mary Renault (Mary Challens, 1905-83)
I don't care if people think she's a schlock writer; she's the one I credit for creating the entire sub-genre of females writing romances about pseudo-historical gay men falling in love. Bodice-rippers without any bodices to be found. True, her books weren't explicit by today's standards (alas), but they were quite shocking for their time, and I think she'd be an interesting woman to have a dinner with. At the very least, I want to know why she seems to have written almost exclusively about The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name, and what started her down that path. I know very little about her, so she might very well be boring as hell, but I'm willing to risk it
I've seen her at big pagan gatherings but I've always been terrified of being just another raving fangirl, and frankly I don't know what I'd say to her. "Um, hi, your fictional books changed my life. Your non-fictional ones I use as resources all the time." *babble* So anyway. But I bet over a nice, low-key dinner, probably I could overcome my shyness and have a fairly interesting conversation with her about the local pagan community, how it's changed, how she feels about her influence on so many people. I'm not so very interested in her personal life, but I think she'd be very pleasant company.
3. Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh
They just seem like such nice, normal, down-to-earth people. I know there a billion interviews, but I'd rather have just an informal little dinner and hear all about how they got into making blood-and-guts movies in the first place, and then why the transition to "Heavenly Creatures", and what they really think about how the whole experience filming LOTR went. They both come across as slightly obsessive geeky folks, and I totally relate to that. Plus, I'd like the chance to thank them in person for turning TTT from a really boring book to a really fun movie; it's my favorite of the trilogy by far. (And not just because of Karl Urban. *swoon*)
4. Dominic Monaghan
The Eurotrash Hobbit. Him because I want to hear all the dirt about what really happened in New Zealand. Actually, not just Dom; I'd probably get more naughty stories with Billy Boyd there as well. Dunno if they're still in touch much or are even really friends this many years later, but the way they chatter on the DVD commentaries, I'm sure I could spend the whole dinner without saying a word and be vastly entertained.
5. MFK Fisher (Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher, 1908-92)
Because she's the single best food writer I've ever read anything by. I love how she interweaves autobiography with recipes. Her style is so conversational, down-to-earth, and easy-going, I'm sure she'd be a delight to dine with. I'd absolutely let her order for me at the restaurant of her choosing, and willingly taste anything she wanted me to try. She's my food-writing-goddess-heroine-idol.
6. Henry II, of England (Henry Plantagenet, Henry of Anjou, 1133-1189)
First, I want to know what the hell he was thinking with the whole Eleanor of Aquitaine thing. I'd have dinner with her, but she seems to have been a bit foul-tempered, and Henry has a reputation as quite the partier. While I'd like to avoid anything involving goats, I'm happy to join along or watch in any debauchery he might feel inclined to initiate. In general, though, he has filled me with awe ever since I heard of him; he seems to have been one of the few truly charismatic kings of the medieval period. Plus, I heard he was a total hottie in his youth. ;)
7. Joan of Arc (1412-1431)
It's hard to believe she was only 19 when she was burned. By the time I was 19, I hadn't done a single thing. No raising of armies, no defeating of the British, no yelling at kings. Then again, no being burned, and that's always a plus. I think she would be quite interesting to talk to, to see if she was majorly loony or just pissed off at the British. Either way, I'm sure we could connect.
8. Claude Monet (1840-1926)
I know he's probably the most famous Impressionist and it's not a very creative choice on my part, but frankly, so many artists are self-obsessed and depressed. I mean, do you really want to eat supper with Van Gogh? No, I thought not. Monet seems to have loved the outdoors as much as I do; I'd love to have a chance to hear him talk about nature and color and gardening and why he paints and vision and eyesight and all of that. And of course I'd love to go back to Giverny, see it as a living house, and eat in that beautiful kitchen.
9. Susie Bright
Another one of my favorite writers. Supposedly she and her kid and partner live in Santa Cruz, but I've never seen her. Then again, I probably wouldn't recognize her if she stood in front of me at the ATM. Her books have always made me both laugh and think, and often also turned me on - an ideal combination that I hope to emulate someday. She's another writing-goddess-heroine-idol, and I'd love to spend some time getting to know her, despite most of her writing being autobiographical already. She's definitely a cool person.
10. Mae West (Mary Jane West, 1893-1980)
One of my all-time favorite wanton hussies. Sexy, witty, and curvy, she'll forever be remembered for great one-liners like "Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?" With her sense of humor and obvious enjoyment of life, I'm sure she'd be a fun dinner companion. At a time when the world was trying to be wholesome and pure, she was bawdy and honest, and I will always lover her for that. (more one liners, if you're interested)
Columns by Wanton Hussy