I’m not the kind of person to throw parties, but a few weeks before anyone’s birthday comes around they’re always inclined to sit down and wonder who they’d invite. Even if they haven’t celebrated in five years and they have no friends. Indeed, every year in mid December after I’ve decided that I’m not celebrating my birthday I think about this. My imaginary list gets to about three names and then I’m daunted by the task ahead; how many people do I invite? Where should it be? Do I call that cousin I’m kind of friends with, but not really? Do I invite that girl I like who doesn’t know a single one of my friends and will get bored to death if she comes? The additional problem of ‘doing things’ is also perplexing – between the ages of 15 to 21, what do people even do at a birthday party? You can’t really drink and you can’t do kid things like go bowling or something (which are actually really fun). At the end I just leave the real party for next year, and this happens every year.
But now I’m changing the topic, because I can. I can invite anyone, from anywhere, from any time period to my party, and they’d come. Who do I invite? Obviously the first person on the list has to be Oscar Wilde, the original party person. The traditional British upper-class, no holds barred avant-garde trailblazer of his day; gossiping amongst royals and artists and 19th century Stephen Frys. I’d invite him just for his quotes:
“The world was my oyster, but I used the wrong fork”.
“Hear no evil, speak no evil- and you’ll never be invited to a party”.
”Talk to every woman as if you loved her, and to every man as if he bored you, and at the end of your first season you will have the reputation of possessing the most perfect social tact.”
A party hosted by me would be nothing without some good old social-awkwardness thrown in; people shuffling about near the door, taking way too much time to pour their drinks; three or four people not having a ‘group’ to talk to who’d randomly bustle into one of the other groups and try to force their way into conversation, only to brutally realise that they don’t know anything these guys are talking about; dozens of people sitting in the corner on their phone because they don’t think they fit in, while they try to connect to the WPA-PSK protected Wi-Fi in maladroit fervour. These are the kind of things you’d probably expect.
I wouldn’t call Hitler or anyone like that because they’re already invited to thousands of other imaginary parties. There are so many people out there who, if given the chance, would invite Hitler, that I wouldn’t be surprised if he has more imaginary invitations than Elvis Presley or The Beatles. I will call Taylor Swift though; that should attract the paparazzi and make this party more illustrious and eminent. Plus, it’s Taylor Swift. I’d actually probably invite every famous musician whose music I listen to. That should be about 1500 people so we’d need a big venue. I’d also call some more tangentially famous personalities; I’d love to see the founder of reddit interact with J.R.R. Tolkein or Bill Gates expressing his admiration towards Ramanujan or Tsiolovsky discussing his work on rocket physics with Chris Hadfield. Tchaikovsky playing his piano in the background while Freddie Mercury sings along. Edgar Allan Poe reading his poetry to Allison Brie (okay that one’s a bit creepy). That would be a hell of a party.
But in the end, who really cares, because imaginary things don’t exist and dead people don’t come back to life. Which is the main reason people celebrate birthdays in the first place – to enjoy the importance of life. Nothing warrants a celebration more than the slow plodding of age, to survive another listless year surrounded by benevolent and loving friends and family, knowing that the icy specter of death looms over everyone’s shoulders ready to snatch us up (or down) at any time. That’s the purest form of celebration – the most poignant and paramount phenomenon – integral to the world and integral to us learning and loving and living; existing.