The temptation of a fantasy dinner party is to invite great people from history. This will only end up with you disappointing your heroes. You get a story about the time you met Marie Curie, and she goes home with an anecdote about meeting someone “a bit thick” who spent the entire time googling radiation poisoning. No. The goal of the fantasy dinner is to cause chaos or at least have “fun”.
I invite John “Mad Jack” Mytton, an upper-class, 18th-century doink. Mytton was a real piece of work, who once showed up to a party on a bear. It’s not clear who made its stirrups, but we do know that Mytton kicked the bear to speed it up. It objected and tore a chunk out of his calf. To be fair to Mad Jack, “Please call a doctor, this bear I rode here has eaten a part of my leg” is a hell of an entrance.
While I realise it’s unusual to invite someone like Mad Jack and then say to another guest “we’re hosting this bitch at your place”, the temptation was too great not to have it at Dolly Oesterreich’s house in Los Angeles. So here we are. Dolly was married to a wealthy American businessman at the beginning of the 1900s. She also kept a secret (and willing) lover locked up in the attic for over a decade.
Eventually, Attic Boy shot the husband and moved across the country with Oesterreich to live in a new attic. We’re having the party shortly before the murder, so Dolly keeps coughing loudly to cover the sounds of what is clearly a human walking around above us.
As a guy who has not drunk alcohol in about eight years, I find people tend not to drink around me out of politeness, as if when I stopped I lost the need to watch my friends make a tit of themselves. So tonight the sommelier is Lloyd, the bartender from The Shining. Sure, he might be a ghost haunting a hotel in order to urge the protagonist into a murderous rage, but there’s no denying that he can make people drink.
Lloyd serves Dolly sherry, while another guest, Wonder Woman, is given pure ethanol in an attempt to break her superhero constitution.
Since she is currently calling Batman a “flying rodent billionaire wuss”, while Lloyd serves me a delicious milk coke (which I swirl around like a big fancy wine man, before nodding my approval), her drink appears to be doing the job.
I check in on Tycho Brahe, who has gone a bit quiet during the first course: a mix-in-your-mouth cauliflower cheese, where the raw ingredients are presented in a deconstructed manner before blending perfectly as you eat them.
“Everything OK, Tycho?” I ask, knowing what the problem might be. At a banquet in 1601, the famous astronomer was so polite about not wanting to ask fellow guests to move out of the way that he held in his urine and died of a burst bladder. That’s the level of politeness I want in a guest. A man who is willing to not piss himself to death is not going to complain about the canapés, which are mayonnaise slopped on Ryvitas.
I instructed Lloyd to serve Brahe low-alcohol beer all night, knowing that the man likes to drink, thereby forcing him to quaff gallons in order to achieve even mild tipsiness. Tycho begins to ask “Where’s the bathroom?” but is interrupted by our host. “I really let out a loud fart there, huh,” says Dolly, covering the sound of a man’s voice from the attic. Brahe sinks back in his chair, while Lloyd pours him another pint, and the chef brings out the next course: Super Noodles sandwiches. The guests are blown away by the concept of double carbs.
Postman Pat, my final guest, is telling Brahe about how he rescued a yak from a waterfall in his “new helicopter”. I hold up a lone finger. “That’s the second helicopter they’ve given to a rural postman who serves one small village. Who’s funding you?” Pat explains that the helicopter, motorboat and canoe help to get his delivery “back on track”. He leaves as the next course, a massive veggie soup, is served. Brahe looks like he might cry. Shortly after Pat’s exit, I swear I hear the sound of a jet departing.
Wonder Woman, who has come as her alter ego Diana Prince, keeps glancing at the attic. My efforts to get her to reveal who she really is are paying off: she now faces the choice of rescuing the man in the attic and exposing her identity or doing nothing. In the end, she leaves him to rot up there while we move on to pudding wines, a course only marred by Brahe dying in severe gastrointestinal distress.
The evening has been a disaster, but as the guests head back through time, I reflect that none of them will have noticed, nor told their spouses/lovers in the attic, how boring I was. Therefore, I win.
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