Who would you share a meal with?

A few years ago, CBS would showcase a segment on Saturday mornings, about a famous chef. They talked about food, business, motivation, creativity.

And the segment always ends with the question: “If you could sit down and share a meal with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?”

I loved to hear their responses.

Then I always answered the question in my mind . . . with a variety of people.

If you could sit down and share a meal with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

Oh, how I would love to have a meal with Laura Ingalls Wilder. She is my kindred spirit, although she died exactly 10 years before I was born. I would love to eat some of the salt pork and boiled potatoes she was raised on, all the while hearing what it was like to grow up as a pioneer kid and later in life become a famous author. I could share with her some food from today and ask her how she got into writing. We could talk about what we have in common, such as doing chores as children, learning about housekeeping (although our floors were linoleum and hers were dirt), enjoying books, wondering about the world and being compelled to write. I’d ask her how long it took to pen her life story and if she realized how much those books have meant to so many. I’d love to see her in person, hear her voice and get to know the woman I think I already know just from her books . . . to see if they are same. And of course I’d ask her if Pa’s violin music was really all that good or if they were just bored.

Oh, how I would love to have a meal with Oprah. While I sometimes don’t like her and other times I love her, she intrigues me, to say the least. We could eat some of her frozen pizza with 1/3 cauliflower crusts, count our Weight Watcher points and top it all off with an indulgent dessert which neither of us would admit to consuming. I want to interview her, as she is always the interviewer. I want to know how a poor kid from a Mississippi farm grew up to a remarkable reporter, then a talk show host, then one of the most powerful women in America. I really don’t care that she became a billionaire, to me that’s irrelevant. I would ask her, rather, about the motivation inside her to keep trying new things, go out into new endeavors, have the courage it takes to keep asking questions even though you sometimes get beaten down for doing it. And of course I’d ask her where she and Gayle King go shopping for eyeglasses.

Oh, how I would love to have a meal with Lady Diana. I still remember my 12-year-old self, sitting on the floor in my pajamas very early in the morning, watching her marry Prince Charles 4,400 miles away in London. I still remember my 29-year-old self, standing stunned in front of a television at work late at night, watching the coverage of her tragic death 4,600 miles away in Paris. I’ve always been so interested in who she was. What would we eat at our special meal? It sounds weird, but it would be stuffed peppers. I read years ago that one of her favorite dishes was stuffed peppers – which ironically is one of mine as well. We would talk about how we rarely get to eat them because most of the people around us despise the flavor, but we love it. I would ask her why she married Charles in the first place, commend her for being such a wonderful mother to her little boys, ask her if she’s proud of the men they became and if she’s surprised how her life played out. I’d also tell her thank you for using her position to help others around the world and staying true to herself even though she endured living in a fishbowl surrounded by prying eyes and scrutiny. And of course I’d ask her what it was like to dance with John Travolta.

Oh, how I would love to have a meal with Pink. How awesome would it be to sit down for lunch with the coolest chick in the music business? We wouldn’t eat . . . she’s too physically fit to eat real food and I’d be way too nervous. But if I could muster up a question or two, I’d ask her from where does she pull all those amazing lyrics, those incredible words? I’d tell her how infectious her music is, how it makes us feel happy and somehow powerful with a hint of vulnerability at the same time. I would look across the table to see how muscular she is – I’ve seen her in concert, I can only imagine the definition up close. I’d ask her how to be tough and soft simultaneously. And of course, I’d ask how she makes her hair do what it does.

Oh, how I would love to have a meal with Jackie Kennedy. Of course, I’d be so intimidated but if she was as gracious as I imagine, she’d surely put me at ease. I imagine we would eat fancy food – things I can’t pronounce and dishes I’ve never seen before. But I think the conversation would be real. I’d ask her what it was like to not just be the First Lady but the First Lady of John F. Kennedy. I’d ask her how she endured the indiscretions, how she stayed loyal to the end and how she bravely led this country toward healing as she shared her husband’s death with the millions who felt he was their family. I’d ask her where she found her strength and how she purged her soul when things became too much. And of course I’d ask her if she really liked wearing those pill box hats.

Oh, and most of all, how I would love to have a meal with Cheri Mueller, my momma. I can picture us sitting at the old table in the old trailer house, eating her cinnamon rolls, fresh from the oven, and drinking her way-too-sour lemonade with a sprinkle of instant tea. I’d ask her what it was like to have so many kids, so much patience, so little funds, so little space and yet so much faith. I’d ask her what it was like to have so many dreams and just not enough time. I’d thank her for working so hard and caring so much. And of course I’d ask her which of her seven children was her favorite; it’s my fantasy so I’ll say it would be me.

Oh, wouldn’t those meals be something?

If you could sit down and have a meal with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

Just food for thought.


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