Dinner with Mark Twain!Posted: September 20, 2012
SO – There are times I start a post and it goes to drafts and it’s forgotten for ever. Or, at least until I accidentally stumble upon it months later. I just discovered this one and I have NO idea where I was going with it. I will now attempt to finish writing it and post it. I can’t imagine what I was thinking when I began it…from my recollection, I have never had dinner with Mr. Twain.
When I originally set out to have dinner with Mark, I had no idea what to serve. What do you serve the man who has been everywhere, seen everything?
I thought, ‘whatever I feed him, I’ll have to have chianti nearby for him to wash it down with‘. I searched everywhere for an old fashioned jug to serve the wine in. I don’t know why I knew it, but I knew it was an imperative that the wine be served in a jug. Something pulled out of the earth from sometime in the Pleistocene Epoch.
Everybody knows Mark Twain cannot have his wine poured from a bottle. That would be so gauche.
After sorting out the chianti situation, I moved on to the peas. Or, should that be string beans? Or carrots? Is there a literary themed vegetable? Surely someone must have written a masterpiece on the eggplant?
Immediately, Fruits & Vegetables popped into my head. You know…that awesome book of poetry by Erica Jong.
“I am thinking of the onion again, with its two O mouths,
like the gaping holes in nobody. Of the outer skin, pinkish
brown, peeled to reveal a greenish sphere, bald as a dead
planet, glib as glass, & an odor almost animal.” ~ Erica Jong
And onions are an awesome thing. But I would never serve them as a side veg to the man who gave me The Innocents Abroad. I would cook with onions, saute them for the flavour and aroma…but they would not appear on the plate by themselves.
The next thought, “Potato I have.” Brought to you by the Dr. Seuss of the literary world, James Joyce himself. Although Leopold Bloom did everything with that potato but eat it, I was bound and determined to serve potato to Twain. For consumption. Just…not as a side veg. Mr. Mark Twain, I reasoned, would be nothing if not a meat and potatoes man. I mean, I could picture him at table with my own Poppy…picking at the new-fangled tower of ugly fruit and kiwi-infused kelp of the post-modern diner. Neither him nor Poppy would touch it to their lips. But both would inhale a good meal of MEAT & POTATOES. And I imagine they would eat the side veg, too, as long as it wasn’t…pretentious.
TURNIP! Only, I would call it rutabaga. This way, I give the man what he wants–wholesome, manly veg. And I get to slip a little pretension in there with the lofty moniker. Win-win. I thought I would boil them, mash them and throw in some brown sugar and lemon…for the extra kick in the face they would need to impress the Twain.
Let’s see… chianti, potatoes, turnip. I needed a meat!
Anybody who is breathing on planet earth today must know that Marky Mark’s favourite food was OYSTERS. But is that meat enough for a main course…of course not.
Yep. You know what happened. I found my appetizer! Served with a nice pumpkin beer and a black-pepper/hot-pepper infused olive oil bread–I knew I’d have him eating out of the palm of my hand. Or at least off the dishes in front of him. That’s a punch and a kick right there!
With a little help of my amazing ninja skill otherwise known as Google-Fu, I quickly learned that Twain would basically kill for a 2″ Porterhouse Steak. Not one for steak, myself, I figured I could make an exception. It was, after all, Mark Twain.
So, my menu was complete. I just had to remember to top it all off with throat-punchingly strong coffee (with hot milk, not cold cream) and a slice of—you guessed it—hot apple pie. You don’t serve the Great American Novelist dessert less American than hot apple pie. Though, if I had had it my way…I would have insisted on enlightening him to the delicacy of the BLUEBERRY BANG-BELLY.
Where was I?
Right. So dinner with Mark Twain.
Guess what! If you have an opportunity to break bread with an author—don’t worry about the tone and texture of the bread. Don’t do it! You sit…you talk.
Maybe I never once in my life had dinner with Mark Twain. But I know a good wordist™ when I read one (I just coined that word myself). I was 15 when I first took that trip around the globe with an excited Twain in his beautiful INNOCENTS ABROAD. Ever since I first read that book, I imagined Dinner with Twain. Not once, however, did I even passingly consider what we would be shoveling into our mouths at that table. This was a man who profoundly changed me. He changed what I wanted to be, who I wanted to be, where I wanted to go.
I guess my point is…use your opportunities. If you know you will have an opportunity to sit with a writer you respect…to share words and wisdom with them—FUCK THE DETAILS. No matter how high on the pedestal you perceive your giants to be, they are people just like you. Have a conversation…have the conversation you want to have with your heroes. Don’t pay too much attention to the details (odd advice coming from a writer, but I think you understand where it’s coming from in this instance). It doesn’t matter what the surroundings are, what food is on the table. What matters is that you both have an intrinsic thing in common. You both love words. Revel in that! Celebrate together.
An opportunity to spend time with a fellow writer is too beautiful a thing to waste.
As an aside, though…I would definitely have oysters at my Mark Twain meet-up. Dude would need serious ninja skills to get any, though. I’d stomp him for the last one. Oysters are a definite weakness for me. Filled with the yummy!