Ironically, I did run in to novelist Tom Franklin in the chips and beverages aisle of our local Kroger the other day. Unfortunately, he was alone and not surrounded by other thinkers and artists of our community, and he didn’t have time to engage in a political discussion. Alas. Kroger is probably not the best location for the revival of the Blue Stockings Society. And so I left thinking that someone should really write a how-to on starting and running a modern-day version of the 18th century salon. Finding no one in the meat department, I’ve opted to attempt it myself.
Reviving the Blue Stockings Society in the Postmodern Era, or
How to Have an Intellectual Conversation, In Person and On a Regular Basis, with a Group of Interesting and Witty Individuals
1. You must first be interesting and witty yourself. If you haven’t come by these qualities naturally, you may attempt to learn them by attending readings and conferences and listening in on conversations that strike you as particularly interesting and witty. You may also wish to use props or witty bits of information to help you along.
2. You must, to the point of death, avoid being boorish and didactic. This can be done by never, ever using words such as “boorish” and “didactic.” If you’re unsure of whether you hold these qualities, attend some readings and conferences for excellent examples.
3. You should have a location in which witty and interesting people would like to be or be seen. This location may or may not have such items as a fireplace and piano (for the sombre artistic types) as well as a giant stuffed grizzly bear (for the adventurers you will surely want at your gathering) and copious amounts of alcohol – both the cheap beer variety (for the proletariat) and the scotch and bourbon variety (for the more bourgeois). Red wine (always red, never white, and never merlot) should be available for the ladder-climbers in the group. These people will be easily recognizable by their failed attempts to engage in any real conversation with either the proletariat or the bourgeois (note the glass of red wine in the image above).
4. Finally, and, most importantly, your guest list must be carefully scrutinized. And here’s the tricky part. Local Politician A probably won’t attend unless he’s assured that local Celebrity B will be there without her latest fling. Local Celebrity B will likely not attend at all – being too cool for such events. Thereby leaving you without Local Politician A. Invite Local Politician H, however, and you’ll be sure to have at least witty conversation. Local Writers C,D, and E will likely attend as long as Local Writer F is attending as well and Local Writer G will most definitely not attend. If Local Writer D is currently sleeping with Local Writer F, then Local Writer G will probably save you all the trouble and opt out of the meeting. However, if Local Writers D and F are on the outs, then Local Writer G will most likely attend – ensuring that all other Local Writers will opt to go the bar instead of to your gathering, leaving you with an abhorrent lack of Local Writers. This is unacceptable and should be avoided at all costs. If, however, you can somehow manage to get Local Musician X to the gathering, then the guest list will fall perfectly into place. An effort to establish a relationship with this guest should be underway immediately.
I believe that following these four simple steps will put you on the right path to converting your home into an 18th century salon, if that is, indeed, what you most desire. If you’re just looking for a place to get together with like-minded individuals who enjoy talking about art and politics and other items of note, you can join me at Angelwood on Thursdays at 3 o’clock where I’ll be drinking tea or even the socially stigmatized red wine.