Recently, my dad was interviewed by our town newspaper because of his work on the board of the local YMCA. One of the questions he was asked was, “If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?”
His list consisted of my mom (for obvious reasons), Will Ferrell, John Belushi, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and William Shakespeare. These choices pretty much covered his variety of tastes, and only my grandma had objections because almost half his invitees died of drug overdoses before they were 40.
This got me thinking — whom would I invite to this dream dinner? If I included fictional characters, the pressure of deciding between my harem of fictional husbands might give me an aneurysm.
Dolley Madison was the wife of fourth president James Madison and was a serious character. She was beloved by the American people and helped raise her husband’s popularity. She was a multi-talented “hostess with the mostess.” During the War of 1812, when the British put the torch to D.C., she single-handedly returned to the White House to save one of the most famous portraits of George Washington we have. Without her, it wouldn’t be hanging in the National Portrait Gallery today.
Until I was 14, I wanted to be an astronaut more than anything. Then, the Columbia exploded and eighth grade algebra hit me hard, so I abandoned that dream, but I would still invite Sally Ride. She worked 10 minutes from my house, and I did get to meet her before she passed away earlier this year — the greatest 15 minutes of my young life, hands down — but I just really still want to go to space, and talking to a woman who has been there is honestly going to be as close as I get — unless I want to try to repeat Felix Baumgartner’s stunt.
Continuing my fascination with historically significant women, Mata Hari was a courtesan, exotic dancer and a spy. During WWI, she spied for the Germans and may have even been a double agent for the French. She was the real-life inspiration for the “femme fatale” trope, traveled all across the globe and changed the course of history. Though being executed by a firing squad for espionage is, granted, a rough way to go, you know she has some cool stories to tell about crazy kinds of debauchery college kids can only dream of.
The only crossover between my dad’s list and my own has to be Shakespeare. He is the king of words and, depending on the day, can make me laugh or cry. I simply just want to meet him beyond his questionable portrayals on screen.
Choosing between Carl Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye is like choosing between Kit Kat, Snickers and Sour Patch Watermelons. I can’t do it except under extreme duress. So I won’t. Tyson is a modern-day astrophysicist master of sass, the face behind the “We got a badass over here” meme and frequent “Daily Show” contributor who can blow my mind with space knowledge. Nye is the freaking Science Guy, and Sagan rocks a knit turtleneck like nobody ever has and created “Cosmos,” which is my go-to “I’m bored on Netflix” show. Sorry I’m not sorry that I think space is awesome.
Taran Killam may still be a pretty new guy on “Saturday Night Live,” but what wins me over the most is his serious ’90s kiddie cred (anybody else remember “Stuck in the Suburbs?” That was him). He is hilarious, can do impressions and, as the video that surfaced of him dancing along to Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” video proves, can bust some serious moves.
Ryan Gosling is vaguely intellectual movie-star eye candy. It’s totally worth him taking up a spot on the list just for the opportunity to get him to say anything containing the phrase “Hey girl” and for the chance for me to win him over with my disarming beauty, dashing wit and dedication to making “Doctor Who” everyone’s favorite TV show. As long as I can keep him away from Mata Hari, we shall be married before the night is over. Sally can officiate.
This is obviously not the entire list I originally had — I had to strike a concerning number of manic-depressive artists and authors from the list — but I think I just invited some awesome people to a seriously weird evening of food, humor, dancing, outer space and hopefully the elopement of the century.
Nicole Jarvis is a sophomore in the College. Her column PARDON MY FRENCH appears every other Friday in the guide.

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