Taking Tea in the Kasbah

Dear Benedict,

In last week’s letter you suggested we should conspire to inspire other people. Clever one, friend. You always have such a way with words. One might think you were the resident writer in the kasbah or something. Count me in. You know I can’t pass up the chance to conspire on something, especially when I get to use one of my disguises for the greater good.

All of this talk of conspiring and inspiring got me thinking about other famous people who inspire me and that led me to wondering about that age-old question: If you could invite any famous person, alive or dead, to dinner who would it be?

The Dinner Invitation List (henceforth known as The List) question has always been a difficult one for me to answer on the spot because I’m the kind of person who regards The List like a giant puzzle: Who would strike up interesting conversations? Who would get along with most of the other dinner guests? Who would intellectually challenge (or provoke, as the case may be) each other? Who can do the limbo? Who has the best dance moves? Who is the best at Two Truths and a Lie? And who will bring the best red velvet cake because it’s my favorite?

Tough questions.

I need time to think and plan in order to answer who would make it on to The List. It is not a matter to be taken delicately, especially when faced with the task of resurrecting someone and then imposing on his or her busy post-death schedule with a dinner invitation. You know how resurrected guests can be. One minute they’re all grateful for being raised from the dead and getting a home cooked meal and the next minute they’re moaning about wanting to borrow your cell phone to call their loved ones to freak their freak. I tell you, if I had a dime…

Then there’s the application process for The List, the follow-up interview and the requisite dance routine (costumes encouraged). If the applicant makes it through all that, then he or she will have to play three rounds of Connect Four with my 12 year-old, the reigning champion/savant of the game in the Pacific NW, quite possibly the world. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they lose a game to a kid.

I know, it’s a rigorous, lengthy process, but just because the applicants are famous does not mean they get an automatic invite. I’ve got standards and principles. I’m also generous to a fault, but you know that. Your application passed with flying colors, even with the unicorn mix-up. Some things just don’t translate well across the pond, do they?

Benedict Cumberbatch, Radio Times

Don’t worry, I won’t reveal the details. Just like I’m not at liberty to talk about Matt Damon’s dance routine or George Clooney and Johnny Depp’s tandem limbo try outs or Ellen Degeneres’ Connect Four score or the bonus puppet show performed by the YA author trifecta of John Green/Libba Bray/Maurreen Johnson. Not that any of them have applied. I’m talking hypothetically, of course. The point is I am a regular Fort Knox when it comes to sh*t like that.

So who would I invite? That remains to be seen given the highly confidential nature of the invitation process. I’ll have to get back to you on that. Take some comfort in knowing that when the dinner party does take place, you’ll be in good company.

By the way, I loved your interview in ShortList Magazine and couldn’t agree with you more about the autograph thing. Should you ever locate the writing cave, just leave me with the memory of your best dance moves and a poetry reading or three.

Confidentially yours,



*Editor’s note: The views, ideas, and opinions expressed in the Letters from Benedict series are works of fiction and obviously did not come from the actor himself. This series is my way of expressing adoration for Mr. Cumberbatch and his work and is not intended to be taken as a true collaborative writing endeavor with him.

22 thoughts on “Dear Benedict: On Dinner Invitations, Applications & The List

  1. Okay, Tami, since you’re totally in charge of the guest list, I know I’ll have to pose as wait staff (or, a dishwasher) to attend your party. No worries. I look darling in a French maid uniform.

    Er. Well. I will as soon as I get someone to cinch my corset legitimately accomplish “daily work out” on my to-do list over the next three months.

    For dancing guests, might I suggest Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers? My fake big toenails long to meet their namesakes. Thanks for your consideration.

    I may even stop vying for Benedict’s attention should you agree.

    • I’m sure you look fab in your French maid uniform. Pair that with an awesome dance number and you’re well on your way to making it to the party. I’ll just need to verify references.

      As for Fred and Ginger – I should really keep this on the down low – I just sent them their acceptance letters the other day. Resurrection plans are in the works. Bonus points awarded for volunteering with that.

  2. Could you at the very least share with us the costume choices of your interviewees? What does George Clooney wear to one of these important turning point moments in his life?

    Also, I like your editor’s note. I didn’t think it was needed until I read it and realized that it is a good idea. So, smart thinking. 🙂

    • Sorry, what happens in the kasbah stays in the kasbah – confidentiality and all. Perhaps George will write about it in his memoir some day. 🙂

      I felt the editor’s note was needed after I questioned for the gazillionth time whether or not I should continue doing this series. Even though I started it as a writing exercise and as a way to show appreciation for his work, I’ve wondered and fretted at length over what it might be like for him to discover these, unlikely as that is. In my head, his reactions range from immense anger over an unintentional misrepresentation to being totally creeped out over its weirdness to laughing at its quirkiness. I realize everyone who reads these knows that they’re complete fabrications of my wild imagination, but I wanted to make sure and in some small way protect both him and myself from any possible misunderstandings.

  3. Hey Tami, In an earlier life I worked banquets (as a waitress) in resort hotels in San Diego. I’m definitely your gal, if you need confidential wait staff for “The List Dinner”.

    By the way, if I could invite anyone to dinner (living or dead) it would have to be Walt Disney. He would be enormously entertaining, more than willing to regale the rest of the group with stories where he’d act out the characters (voices and all).

    I think your Editor’s Note is a good move. We WANAs have been reading the series since the beginning and know where you’re coming from. But if someone dropped in for the first time, they could easily be confused as to your intentions.

    • Between you and Gloria, I’m covered on wait staff should I need any. I would actually prefer you both to be guests, though, so start working on those applications. 🙂

      Walt Disney would be an interesting guest, that’s for sure. I’d welcome an impromptu performance by him. I’ll be looking for his audition tape.

      Thanks for your comment about the editor’s note. It seemed even more necessary after one of the letters was discovered by Joe Riggs who, after a few moments of confusion, realized what it really was.

    • Good point, Catherine. Should probably ban them from all types of social media. Things could get ugly pretty quickly. 🙂

    • Thanks, Mike. I’m biding my time on the Batman thing. Best not to play all my cards at once, especially when it comes to the Dark Knight.

      • That’s probably for the best. We wouldn’t want to get a Batarang thrown at us, now would we? Or would that be a Benedictarang? Hmm…

        • I’m not sure… is a Batarang a real Batman weapon? If so, I’m woefully out of touch with all things related to him. Regardless, anyone who can play the Creature spectacularly as he did – and naked no less – should not be underestimated. Obviously. 🙂

          • I think it might be, but I’m not sure if it exists outside of that 60’s TV show. I’m sure getting hit by one would really smart because Batarang 😉

  4. WHAT????? What’da’ya mean NOT REAL … imagination … made up? Surely you jest! (Ah, but of course, I get it now. Another cleaver ruse suggested by the elusive Mr.C..) I can’t imagine how he plans to conceal his identity when he’s sitting at the head of the dinner table filling wine glasses for Jesus (who can of course just make his own, but still …) Truman Capote, and Princess Diana. Or passing that basket of warm rolls to FDR and Mother Teresa.

    I always have serious confusion trying to answer the dinner party invite question, but you’ve very wisely pointed me in the direction of my error. It’s the interview angle that solves the problem of filing the chairs most effectively.

    And considering that your French maid outfits have already been filled, might I humbly request a position as dish washer? After all, your fine china, inherited silver flatware, and expensive pots should all be hand washed, and I happen to be something of an expert. It might seem silly to volunteer for this task at such an extraordinary event, but the rewards of course lie in the opportunity to collect any leftovers for future sale on Ebay.

    • As I’ve said before, the guy’s got range. It’s anybody’s guess as to which identity he’ll take at the dinner table. No need to apply as a dishwasher/dinnerware opportunist – all regular guests of the kasbah are automatically invited. With your list of esteemed guests, I should be asking YOU if I can attend YOUR dinner party. I’ve got references and my baked goods coming highly recommended…

    • A high score is not necessary to be invited. As for alternative games, I think the 12 year-old would prefer a game of Sorry or Mancala instead. She’s kind of ruthless that way. 🙂

  5. on ,
    marcia said:

    I would love to welcome people at the door as they enter your party, (and also as a way of being on your list of invites). I have a good eye for uninvited party crashers as well and could keep the riffraff at bay! (:

    • No one’s applied to be a bouncer so you’re hired! I’m just a little concerned about the log jam that might occur as you chat it up with the guests on their way in. We both know how chatty you are. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Letters from Benedict: On Theme Songs & D.J. Names « Tami Clayton

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