Setting the Table Reply

The table is set.   The greatest minds of literature are assembled.  Robert Penn Warren, Herman Melville, Fydor Doystoyvesky, Edgar Allen Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and…You.   That’s my table of course. Perfectly set with trimmings, wine and comfortable chairs.  They would talk long into the night.   I’d have so many questions.  I would refrain.  Asking questions would only lead to answers they did not want to give, questions they were forced to engage by an impolite host holding them captive by a warm table, succulent food, and the dribbled questions of groupies forever wanting to find some significance of themselves in the works of the author, and to have the author verify that significance of the individual as if the individual was as timeless as the work itself.  Oh to hear Robert Penn Warren say that “You are exactly the sort of Jack Burden I wrote about!”  Such need for validation is the common call of a modern man — unable to find his own self in the world.

No, I’d refrain.  I’d sit quietly and listen.  Listen as these ordinary men talked of their children and grandchildren, their wives, their homes, their ordinariness.   I’d tell them of my children (ages five and two); I’d listen to their mistakes and be happy that I have not made some of them; embarrassed that I made others; and then just listen to their sound wisdom of the ages.   I’d hope that they would not see an ungracious host, but rather would find a polite table that they were content to be seated around.  I would hope that Emerson would not start counting his spoons, and that Penn Warren would find the truth better than alcohol. I would hope that Poe saw more than the exterior and that Fitzgerald found more than emptiness in the room.

The table is set.  The table is full.   I’m happy I’m here.

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