At some point, we’ve all been subjected to the parlor game, “Fantasy Dinner Party”. You go around the table and name one person, living or dead, that you’d want to have over for a meal. There are predictable results. Jesus, the President (whomever that might be at the time), Churchill, Lincoln, someone’s great grandpa who died in a farm accident, The Dalia Lama, John Lennon, George Clooney, and on from there.
On the other hand, we’ve all had those experiences in which you’re seated with a bunch of duds, suddenly responsible for either carrying the entire dinner conversation or diverting it from some train wreck that another guest has initiated. Listening to someone drone on about how well they treat their nanny and how much she just loves their kids or the differences in fuel efficiency between the Gulfstream g650 and the Lear 85, I find myself considering whether the butter knife is actually sharp enough to product a fatal, self-inflicted wound. It’s also led me to consider The Dinner Party from Hell–people you would hate to have to share a meal with for whatever reason.
My ground rules are pretty simple: Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and their ilk are not eligible–they’re too easy. Anyone else is fair game, living or dead. As you’ll see, I have a wide variety of people on my list. While I include politicians, it’s not necessarily because I disagree with their policies or their politics. I just find them either annoying to listen to or generally uninteresting. I’ll listen to anybody that has an interesting viewpoint–even if it’s one I disagree with.
It’s interesting to consider that Jesus was probably at the original dinner from hell. I mean, really. One of your buddies turns you into the cops and you get the death penalty after a sham trial. One of your other buddies denies that he knows you on three separate occasions within a twelve-hour period. Not to mention that everybody else scattered then hid at the point at which you coulda used a few friends. On top of that, the meal consisted of bitter herbs–how tasty could that have been? But to be fair, Jesus didn’t help himself out much. The discussion of what he wanted to happen after he was gone, with all the instructions and note-taking (I’m sure he didn’t give out PowerPoint slides), sorta put a damper on the whole evening right from the get-go. In short, not an enjoyable meal.
The common thread to those on my list (which continues to be a work in process) is that the mention of their name or the sound of their voice sends me into a convulsion to either change the subject or find the clicker and change the channel as quickly as possible.
Here’s my current (non-exhaustive) list:
- Chris Matthews. Stop screaming. Not interested.
- Either Winklevoss. Grow up. Move on. Do something with your lives other than try to mooch off of that dork, Zuckerberg.
- Eric Cantor. Usually I’m a sucker for a Virginia accent, but Representative Cantor’s “smarm/snide” quotient exceeds my limit.
- Joel Osteen or the lovely Mrs. Osteen (he said with gritted teeth), she of the “do you know who I am” flight attendant encounter.
- Civil War re-enactors (well, any re-enactors for that matter)
- Gayle King, Oprah’s most famous hanger-on as a proxy for hangers-on everywhere
- Jim “Mad Money” Cramer. “Bear Stearns is not going bankrupt.” No more need be said.
- Maxine Waters
- Andy Roddick as a proxy for all athletes who are singularly focused and singularly uninteresting (as opposed to say, James Blake). (Although if Andy were to bring Brooklyn, I might figure out how to make an exception).
- The voice-over guy on the Jos. A. Bank commercials that tells me if I buy one pair of socks, I get everything else in the store that fits me for free. That’s the reason I can’t shop at Joe Bank. My closets aren’t big enough for all the free stuff. Nothing says “quality” like giving your clothes away.
- Angelina Jolie. In general, self-aggrandizers need not apply. I’m just not interested in her seeming desire to adopt one child from each country of the world.
- Extreme Wine/Food snobs. I enjoy a nice glass of wine and a nice meal as much as anyone, but I don’t need to be told about the silt concentration of the loam in which the grapes were born. Neither am I interested in each and every ingredient of a meal someone had three months ago (or how that meal was “cooked to perfection”) that I wasn’t there to eat!
- The dinner will feature authentic English or Scottish cuisine. I guess when you live on an island, you make do with what you have, but that still doesn’t excuse cooking the food until it is completely devoid of flavor.
- Entertainment at my Dinner from Hell will be provided by the otherwise lovely Jennifer Hudson, singing that damn song from the Weight Watchers advertisement. Egad. I’m glad you feel gooooooooood, but your driving me bats!
Honorable Mention Guests from Hell:
- Any cast member from Jersey Shore, or frankly anyone who has so fully taken leave of their senses to let themselves to appear on a reality television show. In my vast reading of the entertainment press, I did see and hereby acknowledge that someone named Heidi Montag and her boyfriend Spenser Pratt (Spenser is on the List from Hell for being named “Spenser”) admitted that, “you can be too famous“. Good work, kids. Now undo all that surgery and live your lives. Go forth and sin no more.
- Will Smith as proxy for famous parents of famous kids who don’t realize that their kids are really only famous because they have a famous parent and that they’re really not all that talented. They just had access to the industry and its experts and were given a chance as a result of the fame in the family (see also that douche bag, Jason Reitman).
- Bono. Love the music but, dude, honestly, shut up.
- Kim Jong Il. I hear he loves golf and repeatedly tells the story of his 11 holes-in-one the first time he ever played and his other amazing feats. Pass.
- The Other Winklevoss.
I could go on forever. Who’s on your list?