I’ve often been inclined to drill people about who they would have at over for dinner if mortality, social location and geography were no barrier. My fantasy dinner party always changed, but there were a couple of guests who made it back every time. But what would happen if I actually had Karl Marx, Germaine Greer, Joseph Merrick, Bob Dylan and Marilyn Monroe over for dinner? What the hell would I feed them anyway..?
I was surprised Aunty Germain made it this time, She’s avoided my dinner parties like the plague since that time another one of my guests referred to Margaret Thatcher as a feminist and she responded by she throwing a piece of steak at them and telling them to read up on neoliberalism. (No, Aunty Germaine is not my actual aunty, she’s just part of my family in the fantasy world where I’m married to the late Jeff Buckley, and Leonard Cohen is my uncle who comes over and sings for me when I’m feeling down and in need of some inspiration.)
By the time, I put the entree out we had all lost faith that Marilyn would make it. Always a mystery, she sauntered in an hour late, tripping over the arm of Karl’s chair on the way to her seat. She became flustered and embarrassed immediately and was more apologetic than necessary stating that it had been foolish of her to wear such impractical shoes. Bob snorted from behind his smoke in the corner and told her to ‘come sit by me babe’ although his tone was less than inviting.
Aunty Germaine gave him a sideways glance and said in a condescending tone that it was kind of him. Marilyn sat down beside Bob, coughing delicately on his cigarette smoke as she did. She was trying so very hard not to stare at Joseph, who she thought was such an unfortunate looking fellow. Marilyn apologised again to Karl, who’s work she said she had once admired, but lord knowns that had gotten her into some trouble. Karl nodded kindly, and motioned towards the bread basket I had put out a few minutes ago. Marilyn seemed reluctant to take any and nudged Bob who said he was happy with his joint.
Joseph hadn’t spoken since Marilyn came in and I was uncertain about whether he was captivated by her beauty or feeling shy, so I asked him if he’d seen any of her films. Joseph declared that he hadn’t covering his mouth as he spoke but said that he had read somewhere that she was very interested in Shakespeare, and asked which of his works were her favourite. Marilyn declared that she was enamoured of Romeo and Juliet, but before she could explain further, Bob, who was now finished his joint and leaning back in his chair sighed loudly, and she became quiet once more.
Germaine shot Bob another poisonous look, and asked him which play he might have preferred. Bob shrugged, and asked why she would even bother to ask him a question she had no interest in the answer to.
By the time dessert was served, Bob had pulled out his harmonica and was serenading the table, although his attention seemed particularly focused on Marilyn, who really was more interested in her drink by that point. Joseph was also mesmerised by Marilyn, and was busy creating an origami bird of paradise for her with his napkin.
It was around this time that I spilt the flute of champagne I was attempting to pour for Karl, who seemed all too unimpressed. He asked me if I always served my guests champagne, as he was handed several napkins from Joseph who was eager to ease my embarrassment. ‘Well yes, but that I’m a real socialist in every other respect, I promise’ I proclaimed awkwardly. I regretted my words immediately when Aunty Germaine loudly asked what the hell wine had to do with egalitarianism anyway. She finished the last sip of her own and held her flute out for more champagne to which I obliged.
Being a hostess can be hard work sometimes…