Diogenes, an early Greek philosopher of the Cynic school, was known for holding up a lantern in people’s faces and claiming he was looking for an honest man. I may not carry a lantern, but I’m always looking for is a good conversation.
Haven’t you wished you could have joined the group at the Algonquin Hotel in 1920s New York City? They called themselves the “Vicious Circle” but we know this witty little group as the Round Table. I’m told you needed to wear armor to protect yourself against the barbs. Here’s a list of “charter members”: Pierce Adams, columnist; Robert Benchley, humorist and actor; Heywood Broun, columnist and sportswriter; Marc Connelly, playwright; Ruth Hale, freelance writer who worked for women's rights; George S. Kaufman, playwright and director; Dorothy Parker, critic, poet, short-story writer, and screenwriter; Brock Pemberton, Broadway producer; Harold Ross, The New Yorker editor; Robert E. Sherwood, author and playwright; John Peter Toohey, Broadway publicist; and Alexander Woollcott, critic and journalist.
Perhaps you wished you could join the ribaldry at the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a pub in London, with Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Oliver Goldsmith and others of his crowd. The pub is known for its literary associations. Regular patrons also included Charles Dickens, G.K. Chesterton, Mark Twain, Alfred Tennyson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and P.G. Wodehouse.
I used to meet with friends at 11:11 on Friday nights to drink wine and talk. Since one person in our group was a genius songwriter, we hit on the idea of writing and producing a musical based on the life of Joseph Priestley. Priestley discovered oxygen and was a Unitarian minister. We had a wonderful time and we did produce the musical, which was performed at various Unitarian conferences.
Bookstore cafes are an excellent place for informal conversation. What’s going on in your area? Is there a favorite pub writers favor? Can you start a kinder round table in your neighborhood or town?