Wow. This is going to involve some hard choices. As a historian, I can think of a slew of people. But who would I really want at my party?
The first name on the list is easy: Eleanor Roosevelt. I would want to get her take on the historical period in which she lived. I would want to know who she admired, the people she would invite to her dinner party!
Second on the list: Her cousin Theodore Roosevelt. I'm a Roosevelt groupie. I just think T.R. was the bomb, and with all the consolidation in several industries (like banking), we need him back to break up the trusts!
Number 3 on the list: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I'd like to hear his tales about how he went about creating Sherlock Holmes, and about his medical-school mentor, Dr. Bell.
Number 4: Juan Ponce de León. The first thing I'd ask him would be: Where did you really make landfall in La Florida? That would settle some pretty silly arguments going on in Florida right now!
Number 5: One who is still living --Maya Angelou. Oh, would I love to just sit and listen to this lady talk and read her poetry.
Number 6: Eliot Ness. I'm fascinated with this guy. I'd like to hear all about the Prohibition era, about what went on in Chicago, about the growth of organized crime during that period.
Number 7: If I invited Ness, I'd have to invite Robert Stack! I'd like to sit and listen to him and Ness talk! I think he'd get a kick out of meeting Eliot Ness. I'd also love to ask Stack to tell more of his stories of old Hollywood.
Number 8: Benjamin Franklin. He would just be the life of the party! Of course, I'd be full of questions about the founding of the U.S.! And I'd just be itching to ask him what he thinks of today's rightwingnuts!
Number 9: Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Goodness, but I admire him! I'd ask him about the Truth & Reconciliation effort in South Africa, and I'd just love to hear his opinions and thoughts on all sorts of things.
Number 10: Marie Curie. I'd like to ask her where she found the strength to persist in the face of massive sex discrimination to become one of the most noted scientists in history.
Number 11: LeRoy Collins, governor of Florida from 1956 to 1962. He was one of the best governors Florida ever had. I'd have dozens of questions for him.
Number 12: Don Vicente Manuel de Zéspedes, Spanish governor of East Florida, 1784-1790. I'm studying that time and place, and would have a whole bunch of questions for him!
Appetizers would be Spanish tapas -- they're small portions, they have great variety, and they're just so darn good! For a main course: Capellini with tomato pesto (Quick Vegetarian Pleasures, 116). I'm not a vegetarian, I'm an omnivore, but this recipe is indeed fairly quick, it's easy, it's delicious, and would probably please everyone. I'd also serve a salad featuring fresh Florida vegetables, and garlic bread (I make a garlic bread that clears your sinuses). I'd serve San Sebastian Castillo Red wine, from St. Augustine.
There are a whole bunch of other people who could have made the list. I guess I'll just have to have another dinner party!