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my dinner with ethan allen: today's history lesson

I feel like I forgot to hand in my homework. John Hawkins of Right Wing News solicited many right-of-center bloggers and asked them to send him a list of who they considered to be "History's Most Interesting Dinner Companions." I made my list mentally but, alas, did not write it down in time to send it off to John. Ah, well. I don't think my choice of dinner companions would have made much of a difference to the final tallly, anyhow. But of course, I'll still tell you.

There were only three people I could come up with that I thought would be interesting enough to be able to maintain a converstation with throughout dinner. I just hate it when you're sharing a meal with someone and there's that awkward silence when you realize you have both run out of things to say. I mean, Shakespeare would be interesting for all of fifteen minutes before I would call him a pompous ass and ask for the check. Socrates? I would probably all asleep in my salad. C.S. Lewis? We would just end up in a fight about religion and one of us would storm off, leaving the other with the check.

I look at the final list at RWN and shake my head in disbelief at some of the choices. Why would anyone want to have dinner with Ann Coulter? Sure, she would be a cheap date because apparently she doesn't eat much, but I think I'd lose my appetite after five minutes of listening to her. Vitriol does not go well with dinner. Unless, of course, dinner is being served with tequila shots. Same thing with Rush Limbaugh. Out of all the figures in history, why would I choose Rush for a dinner companion? I wouldn't be able to get a word in edgewise. I bet if I excused myself to go to the bathroom, he would still be blustering when I got back. There is nothing worse than a dinner companion who monopolizes the conversation.

If I had made my list for John, I was only going to put one person on it. Why? Simple; if I started making a long list, I would keep going and going, adding people at random. Authors, musicians, artists, leaders, villains, heroes....I would have to rent out Madison Square Garden and hire a full staff for my dinner. However, if I limited myself to choosing one figure, I would choose carefully, and it would cost a lot less to feed them.

At first, I thought I would like to dine with Jesus. Yes, I'm an atheist/agnostic sort of person. But I still believe that Jesus did, in fact, exist. I just believe that he was merely a man with a mission that later led to him being on a power trip. Much like Tommy. Without all the pinball stuff.

I'd like to talk to Jesus about his life, his childhood, his parents and what led him to believe that he was the son of God. I don't mean this in a mocking way at all. I think Jesus was an interesting, complicated man and I would love to have a nice long discussion with him over a dinner of fish and wine.

ethan.jpgIn the end, though, I skipped over Jesus for Ethan Allen. No, not the furniture guy. The guy from the American Revolution.

While I was never a huge history buff, I still maintained a fascination with the Revolution and that whole time period. I used to believe that in a past life, I was a colonial babe (I truly thought that I must have worked the butter churner in those days, as I dreamed about churning butter often. It was only later that I realized these dreams probably had some sexual meaning that I just wasn't getting at the time).

So, why Ethan Allen? My fascination with the man did not begin until a few years ago, when my son had to do a report on any figure from the American Revolution and chose this obscure man. I certainly could not help my son with his project if I didn't know anything about the subject, so I did a little research and discovered that Mr. Allen was indeed a very interesting historical figure.

Ethan Allen was a freethinker, as atheists were known as back then. He was also a bit of a cad.

Shocking people was Allenís specialty. He stopped his wedding ceremony when asked if he would pledge "to live with Fanny Buchanan agreeable to the laws of God." He wanted to know which god and whose god the marriage was supposed to please, stalling the proceedings until it was specified to be Nature's god and no other. He was a constant stone in the sandals of the clergy and loved to publicly corner the parson with a list of biblical conundrums and contradictions. That was just the start. After the revolution he and Fanny settled back and raised a family in their Green Mountains of Vermont. In 1784 he wrote his landmark book, "Reason, the Only Oracle of Man."

Allen and his Green Mountain Boys (surely you've heard of them?) (Allen and the Green Mountain boys) played their part in the war by taking Fort Ticonderoga, catching the British asleep. Allen awoke them by proclaiming that he was taking possession "In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress." The Jehovah bit was all tongue in cheek, for Allen was a freethinker who thought Judeo-Christian-Islam-anity was a calamity." (information taken from this site.[He also tried to take over Montreal, which resulted in his going to prison, and when he go out he spent the remainder of his life trying to gain independence for Vermont]).

I've gone on, haven't I? Sorry about that. I get crazy about old Ethan sometimes.

Hey, if any of you out there have that ability to contact dead people, get in touch with Ethan Allen and tell him he has an open invitation for dinner at my house.


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» Not the Furniture Guy from What's Brewing
Aw, look....Michele's posting about my wacky yet illustrious ancestor, Ethan Allen. And I'm just thrilled that someone actually knows he's a Revolutionary War hero, not just dude referenced by a furniture company. Someday, I'll have to tell y'all about... [Read More]


I'm sorry, the furniture guy would be much more interesting to me. ;) Then again, I would have picked Ayn Rand and gone home from dinner with a headache.

Plus, he was a hell of an interior decorator.

This is a more complex question than might appear at first glance. My two greatest passions are auto racing and rock & roll, but given the relative paucity of extraordinary conversation to be found within those two fields of endeavor, I think I'd have to go with an author - Henry James (The Portrait of a Lady, The Wings of The Dove). There are a few authors I favor slightly over James, but my guess is that he might provide the most engaging dinner companion. He definitely had an amazing facility for the English language.

That's the best I can come up with on short notice, anyway...

I would have gone with Ben Franklin, if I had the chance to meet a Revoluntion-era figure.

Ethan Allen was certainly an interesting guy, though.

As a direct descendent of that ol' rascal Ethan, I'd be happy to represent him at dinner should I ever make it to NY. :)

I'm giddy that someone actually knows who he is beyond being the 'furniture guy'. At some point, in 4th grade, I think, I talked about my ancestor for show and tell, and was forever stamped as being someone you should know if you wanted a good deal on a loveseat. Feh.

An interesting choice. Me, I would have gone with Alexander Hamilton, if only to pick his brain on what the hell actually went on during the Constitutional Convention, but also because he was a wee bti of a jerk. You get such a saint complex about the Founders, you kinda want to talk to the one that pissed everyone else off, ya know?

I think I would choose Mae West. First, because she had an opinion on everything, and her mileage varies as to mine. I mean, where's Marshall McLuhan, Alvin Toffler and Che? Hell, where's Bill Maher?

When it comes to conversation, folks, no guts, no glory!

Second, because she was one smart broad, and an entrepreneur's entrepreneur. Third, because it would be fun - and of all the people on the consensus list published at RightWingNews, only Mark Twain and possibly Ben Franklin seem like "fun."

MARTIN LUTHER, for heaven's sake? Now there's a steaming pile of Not Fun, Not Fun, NO fun EVER!

If you wanna have intellectual headliners that will tell you how Very Right you are, for sure, most of this list would be Just the Ticket.

And if you want to seem like a voice of reluctant reason, by all means, invite Ann Coulter.

I'd love to meet DaVinci - but not at dinner; I'd wanna show up at his workshop and spend a few days geeking out.

The whole list beautifully illustrates my view of the Cultural Right Wing - that posture-enhancing suppositories lead to long term disturbances of the vital humors.

Now, Mae West and Ann Coulter at the same table - THAT would be fun! For me and Mae West, anyhow.


Guy to eat dinner with, even if he doesn't want anchovies on his pizza:

Col. Ingersoll from the 19th Century. He was once asked his opinion on the best way to perform a baptism, and he replied, "With soap and plenty of scrubbing".

Princess Caroline Sayn-Wittgenstein would be a woman to take to Togo's in say, Santa Cruz, but my ideal fun date from the past would be Joan of Arc(And of course my French would be a lot better than it is now).

he is stupid