By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty.

For the past ten years or so, I have been working on creating the perfect guest list for a dinner party in the afterlife.

I’ve decided to limit it to a party of six, mostly because my friend and restaurant manager extraordinaire Leah has informed me that is the best number of guests.

Once I settle in to the afterlife and establish a routine, my first obstacle will be determining the finest restaurants, and whether or not food is consumed. I’m hopeful that the film Defending Your Life

Epictetusis correct in the expectation that dead people can eat all they like and never gain weight. Once I’m sure I can get a good table, I plan to send elegant invitations to my carefully selected guests:

Ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus

English satirist Jonathan Swift 250px-Jonathan_Swift_by_Charles_Jervas_detail

English novelist Jane Austen

American Humorist Mark Twain

And American social activist Martin Luther King, Jr.

These five illustrious guests, plus myself, will certainly create sparkling conversation, an idyllic party of six to liven up the tedium of death.

Like any good host, I was careful when selecting my guests. Although I wanted to include some favorite visual artists, they can be prickly. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to meet Picasso for drinks, but something tells me he’d get too drunk at dinner and offend Jane Austen, either physically, verbally, or both. Most of the other artists whose work I admire tend to be reclusive, difficult, or downright weird. Another guest I initially considered including was Oscar Wilde, but I suspect he’d want to dominate the conversation all night. After he’d interrupted Epictetus for the third time, laughing eagerly at his own wit, we’d all end up rolling our eyes in Wilde’s direction. And, while I love music, my knowledge in this area is limited, and I’m afraid any notable musician might want to talk about music at great depth all the while subtly insulting everyone else’s musical taste. I mean, I know it’s not technically good, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let Schubert tell me ABBA’s oeuvre is worthless.

Jane-Austen-9192819-1-402This dinner party offers so much potential enjoyment. Like so many of her devoted readers, I am truly interested in Jane Austen the woman. She is reported to have been funny and friendly, and while not 1289926514-Mark Twainbeautiful, attractive and charming enough to be excellent company. I don’t know if she and Twain will have already settled their differences related to his rather stinging remarks, but I imagine the two of them could get along quite well in the right circumstances, and I am fairly certain she could match him in conversation. As the daughter of a preacher, Austen will have no trouble talking doctrine with the Reverends Swift and King. I suspect that the inclusion of so many religious thinkers would amuse my mother, who thinks I’m past help afterlife-speaking, but once dead, all speculation will be revealed as either truth or fiction, so I expect to have a good laugh one way or the other. Epictetus might seem like the odd man at the table, but his pragmatic approach to philosophy will be just what we need if Twain gets spiteful, Swift gets preachy, or Austen flirts too disgracefully with Martin Luther King, Jr.

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My guest list thus perfected, I am now content to spend the rest of my terrestrial life contemplating the details. Naturally, I’d want to sit and talk to any one of these remarkably complex, deeply fascinating, and meaningfully productive individuals one-on-one, but the fun of the dinner would offer the added pleasure of watching them interact with one another. Here’s hoping the afterlife is BYOB.

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