A few nights ago I woke up around 3:00 in the morning and couldn't get back to sleep. This doesn't happen to me very often - I am one of those people who falls asleep the minute their head hits the pillow, and I usually stay asleep until at least 5:00. I am attributing my wakefulness to pre-gym jitters since it was the morning I was scheduled to go in for my orientation.
Anyway, I was lying there thinking about how, if I was Alexander McCall Smith, I would pop out of bed and start writing a book. I don't know if this is still his practice, but when I heard him speak at an event in Vancouver two years ago he said his current writing schedule was to get up very early in the morning, around 3 or 4, and write until about 8:00, at which time he would go back to bed and sleep for an hour or two.
Then I started thinking about how, if there was just one author I could sit down and have a chat with, it would definitely be Alexander McCall Smith.
Then I started thinking about other categories of well-known people I would like to sit down and share a cup of tea with. I know. I should have been counting sheep, but then I would have started thinking about fibre, and that would have had me thinking about knitting projects, and who knows what might have happened then. Because we all know ordering yarn in the middle of the night doesn't really count, sort of the same way calories don't count on your birthday. So I stuck with my What If game.
Fast forward to today, which happens to be my son Kellen's 28th birthday. He came up this afternoon to play a game of Scrabble, the old-fashioned kind where you reach into a bag and pull out smooth wooden tiles to play on a board, and I was asking him some of my What If questions to compare answers. Just for fun, here are our answers to the question "If you could meet anyone, living or dead, from the following categories, who would it be?"
Me: I already answered this one, but will explain. I have heard Alexander McCall Smith speak in person twice. As a speaker he is funny beyond belief, in that dry humour sort of way that I love. His wit and wisdom come shining through in his books, especially in my favourite - The No. 1 Ladies' Detective series. If I ever get to share a cup of tea with him my first question will be to ask him how he manages to write in a woman's voice the way he does. When he writes the character of Mma Ramotswe it is like he is inside her head. I wonder if this ability to get inside a woman's head worries his wife. Plus I want to know more about that getting up to write in the wee morning hours thing.
Kellen: George Orwell
Me: Jesse Owens
Kellen: Wayne Gretzky
Me: Albert Einstein
Kellen: Charles Darwin
Me: Winston Churchill would have been my answer even before my trip to Britain last fall, but more so now after seeing The War Rooms in London, and then Churchill's home at Chartwell. The first thing I would ask him is how he managed to do so many things, and do them so well. He was a master of time management.
Kellen: George Bush was Kellen's answer. I looked at him a bit strangely when he made his choice. He defended it by saying he would like to ask him just what the heck was he thinking. Yeah, I would sort of like to know the answer to that as well.
Me: There wasn't a single actor or actress that came to mind. I have never been a star-struck kind of person.
Kellen: Charlie Sheen, and the reason was to ask the same question he had for George Bush.
Me: I had a hard time with this one. In the end I decided on Yo-Yo Ma. I never could convince any of my kids to play cello, and I still feel a bit sore about that. I couldn't talk any of them into playing the bagpipes either, but I don't know any famous bagpipers, so I went with Yo-Yo.
Kellen: Chris Martin (I had to ask who this was.)
Me: Jamie Oliver
Kellen: Gordon Ramsey
Person From The Future
Me: The person who finally finds the cure for nephrotic syndrome.
Kellen: The person who figures out the formula that gives the prime numbers. (We are a strange family.)
Me: Kate Davies, my very favourite designer, who also happens to live in one of my favourite cities - Edinburgh.
Kellen: Oddly, Kellen didn't seem to be able to come up with a choice for this category.
Me: I am happy to say this is the one category where the What If became reality. Last fall I had a wonderful visit with Jean Miles, who is every bit as charming and lovely as she appears on her blog. And just so you know, when you sit down with Jean you don't have a cup of tea. You have a glass of cider.
Kellen: My mom. (Okay, I have to confess I didn't ask Kellen this question. But I know this is the correct answer because my blog is the only one he reads.)
Happy Birthday Kellen!