Years ago, during one of our annual family gatherings in southern Missouri, (if locally grown, pronounced Miz-ur-ah), in the town of Thayer, once proud to be “The Feeder Pig Capital of the World,” our Aunt Rosie suggested a parlor game.
What else are you going to do after a sharing a six-pack of Dr. Pepper with your cousins?
10, 2 and 4, right?
So, the game was this.
Whom would you invite over for dinner, if you had 12 chairs to fill, living or dead persons, not counting one’s family?
Aunt Rosie always had neat games for us.
She had been raised an only child by her loving and devoted parents, Mimi and Bill Grandt, growing up in Shawnee, Okla., after her folks’ arrival from Germany.
Rosie was working for Hallmark Cards when she met Uncle Pat, a young lawyer freshly graduated from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
And the rest, as they say, is jurisprudential history.
So, whom would you invite over for dinner?
Take a minute. Think about it.
Your guests do not all have to get along to be invited.
It’s not like real life when we have to think about the political parties and religious affiliations of house guests.
I remember a barber I used to go to when I was a law student in San Diego, living near Balboa Park and all those wonderful octogenarian lawn bowlers enjoying neighborhood laundromats next to taverns.
Catherine of Zodiac had an astrological slant while clipping hair, always liberally leaning towards the discussion of an anticipated compatible astrological sign party of just three signs — Leos, Libras and Cancers.
She was a Libra.
Being a Cancer or moon child, I was invited to attend one summer Saturday night.
I arrived late to the party after a tough day at the office, selling Pop Warner/Sports Illustrated subscriptions to non-English speaking families.
For every $10 we raised through Time-Life promo sales, the kids of Pop Warner were supposed to get a buck.
I began to doubt that ratio the day the phone company came in to disconnect us while I was in the middle of one of my best pitches.
But I did learn first hand about astrology at my hairdresser’s party when I saw different Leos taking their clothes off with different Libras, after their subtle sipping and sharing of the fruit punch.
I’ve never been big on punch after seeing, atop a bar stool, an abandoned commode filled with punch for a Delta Tau Delta Toga Party at Cornell, my junior year in high school.
I had been driven by a local Cornell Delta alum from Oil City to Ithaca to see about the pre-med program.
Looks like the pre-med program of the Delts was a spiked fruit punch laced with Everclear.
Which reminds me that we were in San Diego a moment ago at my hairdresser’s astrological party.
Sun signs aside, whom would you invite over for dinner?
Your magnificent dozen, living or not, family not included.
Would you invite Abe Lincoln?
I would, just to hear him speak.
Would you invite Jesus?
I would, just to see Him work the room.
Would you invite Gandhi?
I would, just to seat him between Jerry Lewis and Perry Como.
It would be tough to figure out whether to invite any females over for our imaginary dinner. Then I’d need to clean two bathrooms.
We all know what happens when women are around.
If they aren’t checking out what kind of purses are in the room, they are certainly checking out whether their purses match their shoes.
Another reason to have a blue wallet.
My blue wallet goes with my mood during this over-extended, colder weather.
Back to din-din, I might want to ask Natalie Wood to dinner, just to ask her about that night and whether Christopher Walken really did do what was printed in the National Enquirer.
No doubt I would have Jackie Robinson and Benny Goodman at the dinner table. Both Kings of Swing.
Lou Gehrig might be nice to add, but I’d have Gary Cooper in the kitchen just in case Lou didn’t like his salad.
Twelve folks for dinner.
Let’s see, I have three chairs to go.
Whom have I missed?
I’ve got Lincoln, Jesus, Gandhi, Jerry Lewis, Perry Como, Natalie Wood, Jackie Robinson, Benny Goodman and Lou Gehrig.
Three’s a crowd, but not at this shindig.
That’s it. Groucho Marx. He must be there.
Can you imagine Groucho and Jesus sharing a moment of inspiration? Talk about “good cheer”!
That leaves two spots to fill. Maybe I need another musician.
But no, Jim, this is not about compatibility, it’s about whom you would like to have over for dinner, regardless of the menu.
Maybe a game show host or talk show host, in case I need to go to the kitchen to get more kosher gravy.
Steve Allen? Jack Paar? Johnny Carson?
What about the great sidekicks? Gabby Hayes, Andy Devine or Tommy Smothers?
I need more women. Helen Keller? Eleanor Roosevelt? Althea Gibson?
How about the talented and enlightened Rev. Pat Wright of Seattle’s Total Experience Gospel Choir?
Give me some time on this.
This is much more fun than doing the TV Guide crossword.