As the market burrowed a new tunnel today, I thought about what I might do differently. Not differently from a personal finance perspective. I mean, which dead guys would I like at my dinner table.
There’s a book, written and quickly published during the darkest days of WWII, called Van Loon’s Lives. It’s a series of vignettes where two modern, middle class Dutch gentlemen invite a couple of famous six-feet under folks for supper. The logistics of the resurrection are pretty hazy, but somehow the dead traverse the space/time continuum for one evening of dining, drinking, and debate.
Some guest lists: Plato and Confucius. Montaigne and Rabelais. Cervantes, Shakespeare, and Moliere. Sir Thomas More.
You can find this collection of twee stories on my bookshelf, hidden behind Love in the Time of Cholera or The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
I’m sure the concept is not unique to Van Loon, and others have explored the fantasy of swapping philosophies and artistic theories with the likes of Kant and da Vinci.
But the thing is, if I could meet a few dead notables for an evening, I wouldn’t go the genius route. First of all, I'd spend much of the evening hunched over Wikipedia. More importantly, the great minds would just ignore me, so I’d drink too much brandy and say or do something totally inappropriate, like sit on Dante’s lap.
No, I’d put together a relaxed evening with my intellectual peers. Maybe Ward, Jack Tripper, and Aunt Bea.
Wait, before you too ignore me and I start drinking too much and sit on your lap, admit: The mysteries of the universe aren’t only held between the covers of a book. Consider: Why did the Cleavers keep letting Eddie Haskell in the house? And wasn’t that nickname a problem, even back then? And how about: Why was no one in Mayberry ever married? Isn’t it kind of creepy that everyone was a widow or a spinster?
Dead sitcom stars may not be to everyone’s taste, so I have some back-up plans involving dead athletes (not the ones who were actually good, more like the Fred Perrys who played tennis in trousers).
And inventors. Not of the internal combustion engine ilk, more like the guy who invented tube socks. Or paperclips. No telling where that discussion would lead, but I think I could hold my own.