Seat at the Table

I do have a pretty good job. I get to meet the nicest, best and the brightest of all time although I also have to meet with some world class slimeballs and that’s a lot of people going way, way back. It’s a trade off.

Seating at the dinner table is assigned according to the many categories of people and while appeals can be made, none have ever been successful as I am, as you say, perfect, and I am the greatest decider. Sorry, there is no room for argument. And please don’t be late for meals as our chefs cook for 45 million people for each shift and that is a lot of food and dirty dishes and everybody is hungry.

As for seating, there is a table for most everyone, or as you might say, there is a seat at the table for all. Perhaps the best part of it all is that everybody sits, everybody has a role, big or small, and nobody is turned away, well actually many are turned away but with some hard work and contriteness and a willingness to change, they can also be allowed to enter.

The roster obviously keeps growing every second and tables can be modified according to the latest arrivals and of course there are always overlaps depending on a person’s abilities. For example, Einstein was a genius but he also was a very nice guy and Jim Brown, the incredible athlete that he was, also was one heck of a leader.

You can imagine the discussions, the laughs, the arguments.

There is a table for the best musicians of all time and that includes but is not restricted to people like Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Lennon and McCartney and Herbert Butros Khaury although you would probably know him as Tiny Tim. I know, I know, he was not a great musician but I didn’t have the heart to bump him from the table. Beethoven and McCartney have had some pretty colorful discussions about melodies and tempo and have even joined to play a concerto with Beethoven’s music and lyrics by McCartney.

The table for great actors includes thespians like Sir Lawrence Olivier, Orson Welles, Marlon Brando, Robert DeNiro, Daniel Day Lewis and Judy Tyler, certainly not a household word or a world acclaimed actress but she stole my heat as Princess Summerfall Winterspring on the Howdy Doody Show. I cut her some slack just like I did with Tiny Tim. Her story was sad. Did you know she was only 23 when she arrived here, having been killed in a car accident?

Orson Welles might be the most interesting person that I’ve ever met or made. I asked how he was able to be consistently brilliant and he just said that was how I made him. A very smart guy. And Olivier, the very word means class and his range of acting was nothing short of amazing. A very nice bloke too and I am proud to say I had something to do with him, too, though I don’t want to seem to be bragging.

I’m particularly attracted to the table that includes the smartest people ever, as I consider myself pretty bright. The table includes Albert Einstein, Johann Goethe, Leonardo da Vinci, Issac Newton and Joe Occupinti, who was a very popular and very bright fifth grade teacher at the Memorial School in Paramus. There’s usually at least one person at every table who may not qualify according to standards but was outstanding in his or her own way.

Speaking of intelligence, it isn’t just book learning but there is a thing known as intuitive intelligence. That is a quality of those rare people I have created and endowed with the innate ability to do most anything, including repairing a broken lawnmower.

This table always cracks me up. Three clerics walk into a bar and the rabbi says. Oh, I always forget the punch lines. So I’m not hilarious. So shoot me. But not the people at the funniest table and that includes but is not limited to Robin Williams, Will Ferrel, Bill Murray, Jim Carrey, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Charlie Chaplin, Woody Allen and Steven Weissman, the funniest boy in his class at the Stony Lane School. It was earth’s loss but our gain that Steven made his way here after just 15 years when he was crushed by an air conditioner that fell from the window of his home onto his head.

Robin Williams did an amazing imitation of me and nobody could raise the roof better than Eddie Murphy, at his peak. Thing is that Eddie peaked too early and I take some blame for that, being in charge of everything and all.

The best athletes are an eclectic group that includes Althea Gibson, Nadia Comaneci, Jesse Owens, Jackie Joyner Kersee, Cheryl Miller, Martina Navratilova, Jackie Robinson, Wayne Gretzky, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Babe Ruth, Pele, Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Jim Thorpe and Jim Brown.

There have been so many amazing athletes and I know I’ve left many off the special table. Sorry, Joe DiMaggio, don’t feel badly. I also had to reject that stone age guy who could throw a 20-pound boulder 120 feet.

I recall one conversation with the Babe (Ruth). He could really eat, I mean 15 hot dogs at a meal and drink, forget about it, he could down nearly a keg of brew. One time he told me how it felt to hit his 60th homer. “It felt like heaven,” the Babe said, “if you can imagine that.” I can imagine that, I told the Babe. It was something like the time when Marilyn Monroe asked Joe DiMaggio if he could imagine how it felt when she had performed before thousands of wild, cheering fans in Japan. “Joe, you never heard such cheering,” Marilyn said, to which DiMaggio responded, “Yes I have.”

That brings us to the most evil people to ever stain the face of the earth. It’s a long sorry list, unfortunately, and growing longer every day. Don’t ask why I created these dirt bags. It has to do with faith and free will and other things that are too complicated to explain.

The infamous list is topped by Adolf Hitler, followed by Joseph Stalin , Vlad Tepes (known as Vlad the Impaler for reasons too gross to explain), Osama Bin Laden, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Genghis Khan, Heinrich Himmler, Kim Jong-il, Saddam Hussein and Butch DeSalvo, the biggest bully in my Paramus High School.

The people at the mean table always get fed two-week old sushi. Hey, payback is a bitch.

The greatest leaders include Fidel Castro, Che Guevera, Alexander The Great, Asoka the Great (last ruler of the great Indian empire of Maurya), Winston Churchill, Julius Caesar, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Napoleon Bonaparte, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. While Donald Trump is not here yet, I know he will insist he belongs on this list because he is a very stable genius and I will have to stop myself from falling on the floor in hysterics and just tell him, no way.

You don’t want to hear what Caesar said about Trump wanting to sit at the table. After convulsing in laughter, Caesar just motioned with his thumb pointed down. And Roosevelt took off his pince nez, squashed the cigarette he was smoking and said that if Trump was faced with a world war, he would probably just crumble into a heap of self-pity and cry that the war is a hoax.

And there also is a table, large but thankfully, not that large, that I put far out on the edges of the dining room. It’s a loud group of people, many overweight, hung up on conspiracies and anti-science and many have, how do you say, the smarts of a doorknob. That would be the Trumpers but hey, as I said, there’s room for all at the table. And I can’t be right all the time.

You might notice that not everyone on the lists have arrived yet and finished his time on earth. I included them if I thought they were so special as never to be passed over, so to speak.

I leave you with this message: You may think your existence is meaningless and that you are no more important than a flea. I am here to tell you that even fleas are important, kind of.




Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer

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Phil Garber

Phil Garber

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer

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