I am not much of a cook but I do know my way around a grill. I once heard someone say “men like to barbeque because danger is involved.” It’s true. There is something primal and deeply satisfying about lighting a fire, stoking the flames and manhandling thick cuts of meat on a hot steel grill. It’s just me, my food, in the great outdoors channelling my inner Neanderthal. But before I start fashioning a spear out of stone, I have to get ready for dinner. My guests are about to arrive.
On tonight’s menu: grilled black-pepper fillet mignon (medium-well) topped with jalapenos and a chive-butter sauce, with garlic mashed potatoes, sautéed asparagus and garlic bread on the side. Oh, and roasted garlic bulbs drizzled with olive oil (you can never have enough garlic). For me, cooking a steak is as enjoyable as eating it. It is fancy enough to impress but also simple enough to be enjoyed with a soda. And tonight the name of the game is to impress, since my first guest is the epitome of rock royalty himself: Mr. Saul Hudson, better known to most of the world as Slash from Guns n’ Roses (and later Slash’s Snakepit and Velvet Revolver).
I had the distinct and overwhelming pleasure of meeting Slash backstage after a show in Dubai in 2016. The closest I came to dining with him, however, was a quick word and his signature on a cocktail napkin (framed on my wall). Until that day, his existence was almost fictional to me. Surreal. His bushy black afro, obscured face and iconic top hat were nothing short of a caricature. But his music was enough to inspire legions of Les Paul-toting musicians like myself. But the thing that I find the most amazing about Slash was his tumultuous and unlikely rise to fame. I would like to know what inspired him to write the way he did and how he was able to perform so effortlessly and flawlessly in studios and on stage in front of thousands of people. Most of all, I would like to know how he did it while being heavily, heavily intoxicated. Most people cannot write or play like that fully sober. Slash did it partially comatose. I am not condoning that lifestyle, but that is pretty impressive.
My adrenaline rushes as my second guest approaches the table. It’s Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise could make a video of himself accidentally falling down a flight of stairs and it would still receive critical acclaim. Like Slash, he too seems borderline fictional to me. I cannot imagine him getting up in the morning and having a normal breakfast without riding a motorcycle through a window or abseiling down the Burj Khalifa. Everything this guy touches turns to gold. His screen presence is magnetic. His choice of roles, flawless. His stunt work, fearless. It’s hard to imagine what motivates him. I would want to know what his greatest fears are and why he never ages. Is there anything he has not achieved? Is there anything he cannot physically do? Tom Cruise just seems like one of those people who is good at everything. A Jack of all trades and a master at the same time. That is pure talent.
My next guest’s presence promptly causes Slash and Tom to get up and leave the table. I don’t blame them. It is not someone I admire or like either. In fact, I hate this guy: It’s Donald Trump, President of the not-so-united States of America. Truth be told, as much as I despise Trump, I am deeply fascinated and amused by his antics. I would love to sit him down and hear him speak without a teleprompter or script. Would he even be able to do it? What are his real views on geopolitics and renewable energy? Does he feel he is a good president? I imagine his responses would be hilarious and wildly entertaining. And I would not let him leave until he properly answered all my questions. I really want to meet the Trump that Melania sees every day behind closed doors. Just imagine meeting that guy. Priceless.
Taimur Tajik is Creative Head, Interwood.