This week in the Spinal Column Newsweekly the question of the week in our “We’re asking…” section is “If you could invite five people to a dinner party (dead or alive, throughout history) who would they be?
As part of my job as the photographer for the Spinal Column I accompany a reporter each week as we venture out in to the community to ask local people what their opinion is on each question of the week. I photograph the people who contribute to the section with answers. After listening to several people in the community give their choices, I began to wonder which people I would pick, and what choices my friends might make.
I also posed the question to the people in my life. The responses I got were interesting. My personal trainer said he would invite Lincoln, Einstein, Jesus, Adam (as in Adam and Eve), and William Wallace. A former colleague of mine listed her grandmother and grandfather, Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra, and Abraham Lincoln. A former schoolmate of mine said Jesus, Mother Theresa, Elvis, Lucille Ball, and her best friend Laura. One of my best friends said Trent Reznor, Alan Ball, Tori Amos, H.R. Geiger, and Aaron Banks, a close friend who we recently lost. My brother listed Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Carnegie, Zig Ziglar, his 5th Grade teacher Mrs. Campea, and our grandfather Jorge Carrera.
Knowing all of these people personally, their answers make sense to me. My trainer is also a schoolteacher, and history buff, so the historical references fit his interests. My former colleague is a fan of classic movies, and a very family oriented person, so Bogart and her grandparents make sense. My schoolmate is a practicing Catholic, hence Mother Theresa and Jesus, and also has a seriously great sense of humor, so I see how Lucille Ball fits well too. My friend is an industrial alternative music fan, and I know she has seen Nine Inch Nails live in concert many times, so I get the Trent Reznor addition since he is their lead singer. My brother, who is an entrepreneurial businessman, and body builder, keeps inspirational quotes in his office, so Zig Ziglar would be a good guest to his party.
After getting responses from friends and the public, I also wonder, what do your choices say about you? Is it any less worthy to say you would invite a pop icon like Gene Simmons, if say, you have always been a huge KISS fan, over say, Gandhi? One person in the community who we asked, but didn’t make it into the paper, listed off a number of family members, and also added their pet cat as a guest. At first the reporter and I were a little perplexed at that answer, but really, its your party, and you can invite who you want to.
When considering my choices I wondered what should be the things I should value? Do I just choose people I admire and have always wanted to meet? Or, if the intent is to have a great dinner party, should I choose people that I think would make good company? I would consider “good company” at a dinner party to be a person who can contribute to the art of conversation with interesting stories, incite, and a sense of humor. Do I consider if they would get along? Or maybe I am reading too much into the question? These are things I wondered about when trying to make my choices.
It is also so hard to narrow it down to just five people. There are many figures in history that I admire and respect, and who’s brain I would love to pick. There are also people who I might not admire, but maybe I’d just like the chance to experience being in their presence. Then, there are the people in my life now who I might want to include in the conversation. Also there are those who have passed away that I miss dearly.
So, after thinking about it, I am ready to share my answers. There are more people who I might like to invite, so I had considered having an “honorable mention” addendum to my list, but the people we asked on the street didn’t have room for extras, so I won’t add more either.
First off would be my paternal grandparents William H. and Mary Lockard, both of which passed away before I was born. At family gatherings I find myself listening a little wistfully as my older cousins talk about “grandma and “grandpa.” In old photos I see them on the streets of old Detroit going back to the early part of the last century. I want to ask them what it was like living in Detroit then. I want to know who my grandparents really were, and for them to know me. I want to see what physical and personality traits they passed on to me. Family members and friends tell me that I look like my grandmother, Mary. I wish I could sit down with them for an evening, and get to know one another, to learn about my family, myself, and the city where my family was formed.
My next selection is Thomas Jefferson. This is a remnant of the influence of my high school A.P. United States History teacher Mrs. Voss, who was a great admirer of “T.J.,” our nation’s third president. Voss guided my high school history trip, during which I visited Monticello. I know that Jefferson’s slave ownership, and subsequent personal affairs, are viewed as questionable, but I am interested in his scholarly and political endeavors. I would love to know what his thinks of the course American History has taken since the time of Independence.
My next choice is also somewhat of a controversial figure. I would invite Pope John Paul II. The reason I would choose this man is, one, because I come from some Polish heritage and have always felt as if Pope John Paul II was a symbol of Polish pride, and two, because I am Catholic. I have a small framed photo of the Pope that was taken by my Great Aunt Estelle, who was 100% Polish, and also Catholic. The photo and the man, have significance as to how I view myself, and my heritage. I would like to talk to him about faith, and the church, hoping that he would let me in on some of its hidden mysteries.
Finally, I chose the singer, songwriter, and pianist Tori Amos. I chose Tori Amos because I have been a fan of her music for many years, and have seen her perform many times. I also admire her ability to grow, explore, and take risks as an artist. I also believe that she would be a most interesting dinner guest based on many of her interviews I have watched. She has a dreamy artistic insight I just have to experience in person. If there was a piano in the house I might even get her to play a little bit, and that would make me very happy.
So, that is my list. I wish I could have many more. I’m not sure all of the guests exactly “fit” with one another, but I’d like to think they would have much to bring to the table.