Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Every Wednesday and Thursday morning, like a well-tuned grandfather clock, I settle in with my grande skim caramel macchiato and read Michael Slezak’s American Idol recap on Slezak is highly entertaining, and I always find myself thinking the same thing: God, I wish we were friends. It’s like we share a telepathic connection when it comes to Idol. Of course, these days, that common wavelength is tinged with frustration and depression, but still: I wish he was my friend, so that my “OMG, me too!” Idol moments could become our moments.

This led me to an idea. You know the common dinner party scenario (“Which historical figures would you invite…”)? Well, I decided that it would be terribly fun to create a fake dinner party in which I got to invite my favorite personalities from pop culture. Don’t get me wrong: I’m sure that a dinner party with Einstein, President Obama and Jesus would be quite fascinating. And I don’t mean to sound shallow; I was just thinking of people that I would like to chat amiably with, rather than stare at in awed silence.

So, here’s my scenario: Dinner for me and  fifteen guests (up from ten, because I couldn’t stop myself), featuring pop culture people with whom I wish I were buddies. In my dream world, I have lunch with each of these people frequently, but I’ve invited us all together to revel in our collective marvelousness.

First off: My all-time BFF Tim Gunn arrives early to help me choose a fabulous outfit for the evening. After accessorizing, we talk menu with Rick Bayless – the Top Chef Masters winner and god of Mexican food, who frequently treats me to lunch at his restaurant and is cooking for everyone (unless my guests want spaghetti with Ragu, I will not be in charge of food preparation).

The rest of the guests start to arrive. Having thoughtfully offered to provide the evening’s musical entertainment, Billy Joel heads over to the piano I’ve provided and starts jamming, to everyone’s delight.

Meanwhile, Slezak and I start talking about the Billy Joel-themed Idol episode way back in Season 2, until Time TV critic James Poniewozik joins us and I interrupt myself to tell him how much I loved, loved, loved his “Don’t Tell Me What 9/12 Means, Glenn Beck” article. At this point, Jon Stewart reprises his epically spectacular Beck impersonation to a round of enthusiastic applause.

I tear myself away to chat with fellow New Englander Matt Damon. Bill Simmons joins us, and the three of us talk animatedly about the Red Sox’ chances this season. Morgan Freeman wanders over to talk to his Invictus costar and suddenly we’re all professing our undying love for The Shawshank Redemption. I think Simmons is even crying a little. It’s quite touching.

I then interrupt a conversation between Eric Stonestreet and Tina Fey to discuss how they’ll both surely win Emmys this year. I convince them to re-enact my favorite Modern Family and 30 Rock scenes as proof of why this will certainly happen. The room fills with raucous laughter.

Next, I talk to Idina Menzel, who has just shared some behind-the-scenes gossip from the original Rent cast when Jane Lynch mentions Menzel’s upcoming Glee guest stint. The two start chatting about Glee’s upcoming storylines (and set list) as I listen intently.

Finally, in a quiet corner of the room, my two shyest invitees – J.K. Rowling and Johnny Depp – are deep in conversation. I pop by to say hello, and off-handedly mention that if only Depp were British, he would have made the best Voldemort ever for the film series. Rowling agrees as Depp smiles modestly.

Okay, so tell me that wouldn’t be the best party in the history of ever. Right? I would swap a winning Powerball ticket for the chance to attend that party.

What do you think? Who would you invite to YOUR dream dinner party?


  1. So it’s a party with pop culture people (I get to define pop culture here) right? Here’s my list of 10 (plus Rachel Ray–Hey, somebody’s gotta cook):

    1. Michelle Obama–I think she’s much more interesting than her husband. Besides she’ll add a bit of class to this group.
    2. Albert Pujols–I’m beginning to think he’s the greatest ballplayer I ever saw. I’d love to spend a little time talking baseball with him.
    3. Paris Hilton–I think she’s great. I’d love to get her to explain to me how you can convince an entire country you are someone to care about when you have no talent and vast riches. It’s evidence that there actually is something between those ears.
    4. George Will–at least someone would be able to carry on an intellectual conversation at the party. If that fails, he and Pujols and I will talk ball.
    5. Tom Clancy–I’d love to know where he gets his plot ideas and how much of the techno stuff is real and how much he makes up. Besides, there’s a good chance he and Michelle Obama could get into a fencing match with salad forks. Might liven the place up.
    6. Rick Steves–I love to travel. Steves and I could spend time comparing notes and I’d love to get tips from him.
    7. Stephen Spielberg–Just think he’s fascinating in the way he tells a story through pictures and mood. I kinda always wanted to be a director and I’d love to listen to him tell me how it’s done.
    8. Michael Oher–He’s the kid in “The Blind Side”. I think his story is utterly fascinating and I’d like to hear it from him.
    9. Tony Kornheiser–He doesn’t do his column much any more, but his books are wonderful and his radio commentary is funny as heck. He’d at least keep the party light.
    10. Catherine Bell–If you don’t know why after just looking at her, you’ll never have a clue as to why she’s there.
    11. Jen, Monisha, and you–at least there would be somebody there I know and like and would feel comfortable talking with (especially about the other people in attendance).
    Good enough for you?

    1. Excellent choices. Of course I’d vote for Spielberg, as well – and I’m in total agreement about Pujols. He’d be fascinating to talk to. And thanks for the invite 🙂

      1. Like I said, gotta have somebody I can talk with comfortably. Think of all the snide cracks the four of us could make about the others.
        Besides, somebody’s gotta punch me and tell me I’m drooling when I look at Bell. 🙂

  2. As you know 10 is too small a party. Today’s inclination is I would only like Einstein if seated next between Harold Nicolson and Virginia Woolf and opposite hmmmmmmm guess– Meryl.

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