I’ll bet you that, at one time or another, you’ve all asked yourselves the question, “If I could invite anyone in the world – living or dead – to a dinner party, who would be on my guest list?”
I thought this would be fun to post as a blog, and I started out thinking I would host an imaginary intimate dinner for four people who make me happy and make my world a better place – something I think we all really need these days!
I quickly realized that the party of four would have to include myself - so, right from the get go, I was screwing myself out of one amazing guest. Not that I don’t consider myself a stellar addition to any dinner party! But, lets face it. If it’s between me and Oprah or me and Gandhi – what would you do?
Exactly! Have two dinner parties? Well, sure. That’s a great solution! Better yet, have a round dinner table and then it doesn’t matter if there’s an odd number of people – Yes!
And so, without further ado, here is my dinner party guest list.
Guest No 1: Dame Helen Mirren
I’m the first to admit that I wasn’t savvy enough to follow Helen’s career from the late 60’s and early 70’s. Of course, I wasn’t old enough either! When Helen was making a name for herself, I was about ten years old.
What makes Helen so alluring and iconic to me is the way she throws her power, presence and sexiness right back in the face of an industry that idolizes youth and penalizes middle and old age. Helen is my sex symbol, my role model, and my inspiration. In a recent interview and photo shoot she did for Vanity Fair, she commented that she’s been gaining and losing the same 10 pounds for the last ten years.
I love you for that alone, Helen!
While Helen has stunned audiences with her performances with the Royal Shakespeare Company and earned an Oscar and a Tony award for her role as Queen Elizabeth, I’m going to go out on a limb here and admit that I really love Helen as the coy and sultry assassin in the popular films, “Red” and “Red 2.”
Call me shallow, but I love the image of a platinum haired sixty-something vixen toting a machine gun in the most amazing fatigues I’ve ever seen.
Guest No. 2: Leandro “Gato” Barbieri (1932-2016)
If you’re a lover of tenor saxophone, then the “Cat” needs no introduction. If not, think “Last Tango in Paris” and his remake of Carlos Santana’s iconic “Europa.” If you don’t know I’m talking about, just listen here and I know you’ll get what I’m talking about.
Gato lived a long life and was loved by many. He’d be the only ghost at the table, but I’m convinced that he’d be “smokin” sitting alongside Helen.
Guests No. 3 & 4: Michelle and Barack Obama
Almost a cliché, I know. But, for the last eight years, this was a couple – a family – who, for me and so many others, were a symbol of America’s promise, our ability to move beyond our racial past, and our promise as a nation on a path of strength, greatness and inclusion. The fact that they’re such a down to earth and “normal” American family is a huge part of their appeal. I’m going to seat them apart from each other to spread the wealth.
Guest No. 5: Don Henley
In 1971, I was a sophomore in high school and the Eagles became a part of my daily life. Their tunes and lyrics have remained with me ever since, and each of their songs became an anthem for different phases of my life. Songs like “The Best of My Love,” Desperado” and “Take it Easy,” carried me through high school and college. They were still with me through the 80’s and 90’s, as I traversed the often lonely and scary terrain of a difficult marriage and the joys and fears of motherhood.
Don himself was most present for me during my marital strife, separation, attempted reunions and, finally, during the divorce that changed my life forever. Songs like “The Heart of the Matter” and “End of the Innocence” gained new poignancy for me, both comforting and torturing me at the same time. Don’s is a voice that has been with me for the better part of my life and he has earned his seat at my dinner table.
Guest No. 6: Al Franken
Controversial as this choice may seem, wouldn’t you be interested in finding out what this guy was thinking when his world abruptly fell apart after photos emerged, depicting him exhibiting at the least, stupid frat-boy behavior and, at the worst, a tendency to marginalize and demean women? Here’s someone who had a bright future in politics and saw it all wiped away because of utter stupidity and sophomoric behavior. Don’t you also want to find out how he feels that our Commander in Chief is still sitting behind his desk in the Oval Office? I do.
This was a hard list to distill down to six people. And I’m sure that the list would change with my moods and with what is currently happening in my own world. Here’s the list I started out with and, make no mistake, every day, someone else is added to it:
Billie Jean King
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Martin Luther King Jr.
Please share your list of the six people you’d invite to your next dinner party. I’d love to hear from you!