If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would you pick? It’s a good, if not overused, icebreaker for when you are on a date and desperately looking for something to talk about besides job and family. I was actually asked this question while on a college interview. You know who I said? Paul Newman. Why? Cause I’m fucking unique, that’s why.
No, I was not accepted into the university.
But I’ve thought long and hard about this question in the five years since that interview, and I’ve finally come up with my answer: stepdads. The unsung heroes of broken families everywhere. With a few exceptions, stepfathers are a generally well-received bunch of blokes. I’ve read like a dozen books and seen like a million movies and I’ve never come across an “evil stepfather.” Evil stepmothers, on the other hand, all but have their own movie subgenre.
Now that I’m older and wiser, if I could have dinner with three people of history, I’d choose the best stepdads of all time: Joseph of Nazareth, George Washington, and Caitlyn Jenner. Joseph, for all you sinners out there who don’t know, was the foster father of Jesus Christ. George Washington, in addition to being the father of United States, was the stepdad for two of Martha Washington’s children from a previous marriage. And Caitlyn, well… she already has a bunch of medals, but what she really deserves is a break.
I’d take them to a Benihana, or someplace nice like that. Cait and I would laugh under our breath as we saw George and Joseph contemplate the technology behind the grilled onion volcano. She and I would talk about the Olympics and how they really need to get rid of that gymnastics event with the ribbons ‘cause it’s boring, and how I’m pretty sure I could make the American Handball Team if I really set my mind to it.
The conversation might shift to George, who has become enchanted with one of those fruity cocktails in the ceramic Buddha containers. Can you blame him? They are just delightful. We’d talk about the Revolutionary War and I’d tell him that he just has to see Hamilton because holy moly does it live up to high expectations, and then I’d do my best at singing “Washington by Your Side,” and George would humor me for a bit of it, but when I ask him what he thinks of my rendition he would tell me he didn’t like it, because even though he is a sweetheart deep down, the motherfucker simply does not tell lies.
With my feelings hurt but pride still intact, we’d all turn to Joseph, who is still just mesmerized by the grilled onion volcano. I’d ask him about the carpentry game and patiently wait for his response. After a few awkward seconds, Washington, the good Episcopalian that he is, would remind me that Joseph of Nazareth only speaks Aramaic. I’d laugh and pretend that I knew that the whole time. I’d make a mental note to converse with Joseph through gestures for the rest of the evening.
“When did you really start to feel like they were your children?”
“Were you on a first name basis with the kids, or did they refer to you as dad?”
“Did Aaron Burr really have the voice of an angel? And was he actually black?”
These are the type of hard-hitting, nose to the ground, no holds barred type questions that the stepdads should expect at our hibachi dinner. I’d like to think I’d keep the full court press on them for hours, but then again, it’s a dinner and not an interview. So, after a few rounds of well-intended interrogation, we’d slip into something more casual.
Caitlyn would pick up the check with all that fuck-you-reality-television money she’s got coming in, and then we’d all part our separate ways. I’d buy Joseph a Bic lighter, bag of onions, and bottle of lighter fluid so he can show off the onion trick to his homies back in Bethlehem.
That’s my dream dinner. Just a bunch of dudes sitting around the hibachi grill and sharing stories about the good ol’ days.