It’s always the same. You’re on a date or job interview and someone leans in to ask that age old question: “If you could invite any person alive or dead to a dinner party, who would it be?”
After Shakespeare and Jimi Hendrix, you pencil me in to really lock-in those cultural bonafides. Then, to seem well-read you slip in that anecdote about how I would write things backwards.
Did it ever occur to you that I wrote backwards because I was a private guy who kept to himself? What, you really think social anxiety wasn’t a thing in 1507? Did artists only become introverts on Tumblr?
Just once. I’d like to hear someone ask: “Does Leonardo da Vinci want to be at your dinner party of greatest people alive or dead?” “Does Leonardo da Vinci have any dietary concerns I should know about?” “Does Leonardo da Vinci really want to ride the G train all the way to Greenpoint tonight?”
Now I gotta be “on” all evening. Making eye contact and smiling like Mona through all your boring work stories, while pretending to enjoy the five mediocre course meal you’ve ladled into irregular ceramics. Why is the soup so bland, did the Venetians give up the salt trade? Seriously, if I’m invited, Joël Robuchon, Wolfgang Puck, or at the very least, Emeril “Live” Lagasse better have made your guest list too.
I’m coming in hot from the height of Renaissance opulence, under the patronage of Ludovico Sforza’s in Milan and you’ve got me sitting on a pouf on the floor of a boho studio apartment? Why are we eating off the coffee table? What do you mean you don’t have a dining room? Are these cups pickling jars? What the heck is a White Claw? And why would the systems of rules which your country recognizes and imposes no longer apply when you are holding one?
Yeah, I was a painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect and engineer. What I wasn’t, was here for your bullshit.
I mean, I just walked through the door and hung up my fur-cape and you’re already asking me wayyyy too many personal questions. Was the Mona Lisa a secret self-portrait? Excuse me. How about some bread rolls first? You’re now thinking of asking me to paint you something, I can tell. Go on, ask me. I dare you. They’ll be calling this dinner “The Last Supper.”
Oh, you want to talk about the rest of my art. My inventions? My predictions? Great, so excited man, can’t wait. I haven’t discussed all of that stuff a billion times! That was sarcasm by the way. Yeah, invented that too. Did I really come up with a prototype of the “cooling machine” you call a refrigerator? You bet and boy do I now regret it. Seeing as it aided and abetted this travesty of a gathering. I legitimately feel worse about the ramifications of my icebox than I do any of my numerous war machines.
So please, let’s talk about something, anything other than my work. The November election, Parasite, The Lakers. Yeah, LeBron’s getting older, but he’s still putting up a cool, 25/7/10 a night. He’s built like the “Vitruvian Man” for crying out loud. He’s also never had a sidekick like A.D.
But you don’t want to talk about that. Because I’m not a person to you, I’m a prop, a curiosity, a cymbal hitting monkey you wind-up and watch go (totally could have invented that, it kills me). The truth is, you never really wanted me here. I’m a 500-year-old man who hasn’t watched The Office. You invited me, because I’m the expected choice. We have nothing in common and the awkward silence has arrived well before dessert. I know this, because it’s the same every time. I’ve been to more “Dream Dinner Parties” than you can imagine and it’s making it really hard for me to stick to the Whole30. So, I’d appreciate it if you gave Botticelli a ring for this one (have him tell you his story about the clumsy Florentine cobbler).
And at the very least, if you do invite me. That son of a bitch Alfred Hitchcock better not be there this time.