Lunch with ???

The other day, my bestie asked me a question.  It was one of those questions that I’m pretty sure everyone has been asked at some time in their life.  One of those famous, or infamous, questions that you roll your eyes at when asked or you have thought about a million times and have a standard go to answer for.  She asked me, “If you could sit down and have lunch with anyone, past or present, who would it be.”.

Yes, I rolled my eyes.  She couldn’t see me though.  (thanks email)  I’ve been accused, and rightly so on some occasions, that I don’t answer questions that are posed to me.  I will blow them off or give the first answer that comes to mind without much thought, but this time I decided to roll it around in my brain for a while and see if I had a real answer.  Taking my time served two purposes on this occasion.  I could do a little soul-searching and find out a little more about myself and it would also bug my bestie.  She is still working on being patient.  Not her strongest suit.  Indulge me for a moment, if you will, and let me explain my thought process.

In order to help me really focus and make this thought exercise worth wild, I placed a restriction upon this lunch in that this will either be the last time or the only time in my life that I would ever be able to see and/or dine with my guest of honor.  Of course my first thoughts went to which famous athlete would I like to meet or meet again.  I eventually decided against an athlete for the same reason I passed on lunch with an actor or actress I’ve admired.  All I would do either spend the whole time squeeing like a little fanboy that is too nervous to even speak or the entire conversation would simply be asking him or her questions along the lines of, “Do you remember that time you did that thing”.  Besides, athletes and actors are, or at least they should be, well-heeled in the art of interacting with their fans. They know just how to act and just what to say and are able to hide their “here we go again” disdain behind those million dollar smiles.  They are performers after all and they do what they do best.  I know it doesn’t mean as much to them as it would to me so they are off the table.

The next group of possible dining partners I looked at were scientists and artists that I admired.  This bunch was dismissed even quicker than the first.  I know that there is no way that I could even remotely begin to carry on any type of intelligent conversation with the likes of Neil Degrasse Tyson, Archimedes or Copernicus. What could I possibly say to Van Gogh or Thomas Cole other than, “I am so very fond of your work”.  I’m sure I would enjoy taking a tour of an art museum with them, listening to them talk about their works and what they really thought of their contemporaries, but not just sitting at a table while they critique the mass-produced, truckload sale “paintings” adoring the restaurant walls.

The final group that I considered, and actually gave the most serious consideration to, was one of our “Founding Fathers”.  What an afternoon that would be.  To talk with the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin.  How awesome would it be to be able to ask the question, “What did you, our Founding Fathers, really intend when you did this thing, wrote that amendment, passed that law.”?  Along with that knowledge though comes a VERY HEAVY burden.  Armed with the truth, I couldn’t just sit back and shake my head every time I saw or heard some politico say that their party, organization or movement knows exactly what our “Founding Fathers” intended.  Be all content and quiet when I see how conveniently it dovetails with their beliefs and their bank accounts.  I would need to shout it from every street corner.  Try to convince everyone that will listen that I, and only I, know the real truth.  Call every politician, decision maker and influential I could to help get things pointed it the right direction.  I would appear just as crazy but on the other side of the fence.  With that also comes this even darker thought.  What if it turns out that the ones I think are the wing nuts and evil turn out to be spot on and the “Founding Fathers” are very pleased with the way things are going?  Or even worse, still think they need to go even further in the direction I abhor.  As long as no one REALLY knows the truth, all possibilities, including the ones I believe in, are equally valid.  No one would be able to claim the “high ground”.

Wow.  This really seems to be spiraling out of control.  It was just a simple question and look what I’ve done to it.  This is what happens sometime when I am given these thought exercises.  It does feel good to knock the cobwebs out of the old brain bucket though.  Ok, now back to my story.

After all the careful thought that I have outlined here, and even more that I have not outlined here, I decided that the person I would most want to have lunch with, knowing that this will be the last and or only time in my life that I would be able to see this person, is Haydn Weber.

Who is Haydn Weber?  Haydn is my wife’s great uncle.  Her grandmother’s (G-Ma’s) brother.  Strange choice, you say.  Allow me to explain. (not like I haven’t run on enough all ready.  it’s my blog, I can do whatever I want.  I’m KING)

My wife and I had the pleasure of meeting Uncle Haydn at Thanksgiving in 1996.  Our #1 son was born in June of that year and we decided to travel to Kansas to spend the holiday with my wife’s family.  Uncle Hayden also decided to spend Thanksgiving with his sister (G-Ma), in Kansas, and had arrived from his home in Cardiff, Wales just a few days before.  What a wonderful man!  We hit it off immediately.  I’m not sure if it was his soft voice, his lovely Welsh accent or his ever-present smile, but #1 son was completely won over.  During those three days, #1 son and Haydn were inseparable.  I’m not sure who was having the grander time.  The laughing (both of them).  The cooing (both of them).  The singing (Hayden mostly).  It went on for hours.  There was something truly magical about this man.  When #1 son was forced to take his naps (they were both bummed about that), Haydn would tell us wonderful stories about growing up in Wales and his life in the UK.  The three days we spent together were all too short.  I was sad in the realization that Haydn was not in the best of health and, unless we won the lottery, that once he returned to Wales and we returned to Connecticut, we probably wouldn’t get to see each other again.  Even sadder was the realization that #1 son would probably never remember any of this.  This man left such an impression on us that #2 son was given the middle name, Haydn, in his honor.  As always seems to be the case with me, the true impact of our interaction didn’t reveal itself until after it was over.  I wish I had listened closer to his stories so that I could share them again now that my boys are older and can appreciate them.

Here is the only picture that we have of #1 son and Great Uncle Haydn together from that magical holiday visit.

scan0004ppc     That’s why I chose Great Uncle Haydn Weber to share my special lunch, and why both #1 son and #2 son would be accompanying me. (my lunch, my rules) I want Haydn to see what a wonderful young man #1 son has become and to introduce him to his namesake, #2 son.  Both my boys have heard the story of our visit and what it meant to us, but I want them to see for themselves.  I want us to all hear his stories again and to really listen and savor each and every wonderful moment.  Most of all though, to let him know how wonderful we think he is and what an impression he has left on our lives.

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