Table Topics on my dining room table. January 2013.

Table Topics on my dining room table. January 2013.

There’s a set of conversation-starter cards called Table Topics that sits on my dining room table. One of its questions: “Which celebrity would you most like to see in person?”

Blink blink.

While in college at the University of Texas, my brother went for a late lunch. In the nearly empty food court, Quentin Tarantino sat at the only occupied table, holding court with two other people.

My brother is not shy. He asked for an autograph.

Tarantino said, “Wouldn’t you rather sit down and have lunch with me than get my signature on a piece of paper?”

In my imagination, my brother paused for a second before replying.

“Not really,” he said. And walked away.

He called me later to tell me the story. I’m not a Tarantino fan, but the exchange surprised me—although I admired my brother’s fearless frankness. “I didn’t have anything to say to the guy,” he said. “Figured I’d get to class.”

Even if I widen the definition of “celebrity” to include categories of people most people wouldn’t consider celebrities, such as writers and businesspeople, there’s no one in particular with whom I’d crave conversation.

I have no doubt that there are numerous prominent people with whom I’d find affinity and even friendship. However, I have no idea who they could possibly be from having a seen few films, read a book or two, or bought an album. (Although there are some celebrities I suspect wouldn’t be pleasant in person. I like Kanye West’s music, yet I doubt he and I would banter well.)

For example, one of my favorite novelists is John Irving. I’ve heard him read from his work and answer questions. He seemed like a sharp guy. I’m sure he’s a wonderful friend. Yet, although I’ve read the majority of his writing, he’s a complete stranger. It’s hard for me to crave friendship or conversation from unknown entities.

Are there any celebrities you’d like to meet? Why?