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Dinner with a Stranger
February 5, 2009 8:37 AM   Subscribe

If you got an email from a stranger who said they'd donate $200 to a charity of your choice if you would invite him and a friend over to your place for dinner, would you say yes? Toronto artist Franke James did, and now she now thinks it might be an interesting idea for fundraising.
posted by Staggering Jack (35 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
D'oh! The word invite should in the first sentence..."if you would invite him and a friend...". I guess I should have invited myself over to an editor's place for lunch.
posted by Staggering Jack at 8:45 AM on February 5, 2009


I don't know. I think would only do it if if I accidentally him and a friend to dinner.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:45 AM on February 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


So this has nothing to do with Nigerians?
posted by gman at 8:50 AM on February 5, 2009


I was going to take exception to the singling out of "authors, artists and environmentalists" as the only ones who would do this but then I realized that *I wouldn't* do this. I'm certainly not the first two and I don't think of myself as the third, so maybe she's right.

I really like her rebus-y blog style, though.
posted by DU at 8:51 AM on February 5, 2009


As it is, though, this is really rather cute. This could be fun and very awkward, but I'm not sure I could handle it. Then again, I don't really like people so much.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:55 AM on February 5, 2009


So this has nothing to do with Nigerians?

Unless you invite a Nigerian to dinner.
posted by scarello at 8:56 AM on February 5, 2009


She lost me at "vegetarian."
posted by Floydd at 8:58 AM on February 5, 2009


Hi Cortex,

You don't know me...
posted by studentbaker at 9:03 AM on February 5, 2009


If I got an e-mail from a stranger (who"didn't want to ruin the surprise by revealing too much about himself") inviting himself over to my house? I'd say no. Sorry. Just not comfortable having someone I've never met before come into my house. Good for them who can do those things.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:07 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I became so tired of reading the rebus site, I didn't get to the end...someone tell me...did the stranger slay her in some manner and then eat her heart??? 'cuz that's what would happen in my neighborhood...
posted by HuronBob at 9:20 AM on February 5, 2009


I would certainly say yes, though to be a proper host in this situation you have to end up spending at least fifty or sixty bucks on the dinner because you have to have another friend or two over and let the donor bring a guest and then you have to put out a little cold antipasto spread and some dessert besides just salad and entrees, a couple bottles of wine or beer, a digestif... It's sort of like a microfundraising microevent.

I would do vegetarian but not vegan. I can't work under those constraints.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:24 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Uh maybe, if I was the charity and I could keep the cost of the dinner down to around 25 bucks. Hell I could do that a couple nights a week.
posted by gigbutt at 9:24 AM on February 5, 2009


If I was one of these people hosting the dinner, I'd serve a nice, crunchy salad - spread out all over my bed.

I'd drop my towel and say "Let's make sure you get your money's worth, shall we?"
posted by orme at 9:24 AM on February 5, 2009


"I don't know. I think would only do it if if I accidentally him and a friend to dinner."

The whole dinner?
posted by orthogonality at 9:25 AM on February 5, 2009


"I don't know. I think would only do it if if I accidentally him and a friend to dinner."

The whole dinner?


...Is this dangerous?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:28 AM on February 5, 2009


Oh yeah, green driveway lady. I could think of higher-profile Toronto celebrities but whatever, neat idea. If I was back in Toronto I'd totally do this. Or I'd give $200 to have dinner with Matt. Jess is east coast and Cortex, sorry, but I imagine you house smells like patchouli.
posted by GuyZero at 9:39 AM on February 5, 2009


Yeah, in a second. I like to cook, I'm vegetarian, I like strangers…

My girlfriend would probably at least try to nix the idea, but hell, I'd probably have impulsively said yes and only mentioned it to her in passing two days before the dinner (and I probably wouldn't have done any shopping or anything, because, hey, ADD, and we'd end up with whatever I could cobble from the Indian grocery on the corner).

Anybody want dinner?
posted by klangklangston at 9:50 AM on February 5, 2009


I don't do anything a stranger asks me to do via email.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:57 AM on February 5, 2009


I don't do anything a stranger asks me to do via email.

"Sometimes you have to put a little trust in people," he said, as he admired his enormous genitals while earning a living working from home high on cheap prescription drugs.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:14 AM on February 5, 2009 [9 favorites]


I don't do anything a stranger asks me to do via email.

I'm totally going to send you an anonymous email that says only "Keep breathing."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:01 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I figured she had to be Canadian - most Americans would just freak right out.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 11:46 AM on February 5, 2009


I will gladly have some of you over to my house for dinner if you donate $200 to charity. You're mostly strangers.
posted by !Jim at 11:52 AM on February 5, 2009


I would definitely do it, in an absolute heart beat. Not Canadian, btw. $200 would do a lot for my favorite charities. If all I had to do was make a spectacular vegetarian dinner/give up some sparkling dinner conversation to get them that money? Come on over!
posted by hecho de la basura at 12:26 PM on February 5, 2009


I cant believe the cynicism. When I was lived in Scotland I invited some buskers who were working their way around the world to sleep on my floor (they were camping and it rains a lot in Scotland...). It was fun and they didnt kill me. I would do it again, I think. Granted this was in 1987, but was that really that long ago? This is a really charming story.
posted by ameliajayne at 12:26 PM on February 5, 2009


the following day
Dear Metafilter,
I never thought it would happen to me...
posted by inigo2 at 1:41 PM on February 5, 2009


I figured she had to be Canadian - most Americans would just freak right out.

Americans lock their doors! Canadians don't!
posted by inigo2 at 1:41 PM on February 5, 2009


This is touching, clever, and sort of awesome.

I'd say no. Sorry. Just not comfortable having someone I've never met before come into my house.

It's too bad that fear, standoffishness and reflexive suspicion of one's fellows are so deeply ingrained in the American psyche. We don't even let our kids outside to play anymore.
posted by killdevil at 2:04 PM on February 5, 2009


ameliajayne, Couchsurfing keeps the flame burning nowadays.
posted by ersatz at 2:14 PM on February 5, 2009


If he and his friend didn't mind standing up the whole time and eating the tuna-mac-n-cheese straight out of the pot, the way that I do, then hell yeah.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:18 PM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


The original concept is clever as it reverses the standard relation between donor and host. Instead of the host trying to get money out of the donor, the donor is trying to get a party out of the host. Cute! (Although, it doesn't sound so eloquent the way I worded it.)

But...

I don't understand how a particular organization could leverage the concept other than to encourage prospective donors to try it on their own. If you're bidding on dinners with possibly-famous-people, you're just relabeling what's been done in charity auctions for yeeears. If you're just buying a dinner for $x, then it's basically a charity ball with fewer people.

Am I missing something?
posted by pokermonk at 2:22 PM on February 5, 2009


I don't think so, pokermonk (I mean, I don't think you're missing anything...although the link is dead right now, so I'm bs-ing).

The appeal of this (given the above caveat) is that the charity ball costs so much money to get up. Sure, you've got volume with the charity ball, but the dinner party, with its relatively intimate setting, allows you to build a deeper relationship with a donor. It seems like it would allow the donor to feel more involved, more connected, and less bullshitted and society-herd-like.

Plus, there are a lot of cool, interesting, involved and passionate people who hate those big charity functions. This is more grassroots, more honest.

(And depending on my mood any given day I would totally hate being any part of it -- at least at a big function I could hide in the crowd.)
posted by theefixedstars at 5:30 PM on February 5, 2009


It's too bad that fear, standoffishness and reflexive suspicion of one's fellows are so deeply ingrained in the American psyche. We don't even let our kids outside to play anymore.

C'mon, guys, wanting to have your own space and being skeptical of someone you don't know rather presumptuously - as Mark himself pointed out! - inviting himself and a guest (!) over for dinner doesn't make you a warped product of the modern dystopia. Perhaps consider that we've had a variety of experiences growing up, that we live in different areas with different levels of crime and speed of police response, that some of us are more able to defend ourselves physically than others ... and also, that the world needs its pessimists as well as its optimists.

Oh, sorry, was that not kneejerk enough?

Anyway, I think for me it would depend a lot on the initial approach. I've done some crazy things before, traveled to stay with 'net friends and the like, but I try to vet them out as carefully as I can. Although I loved how the story turned out when Mark made his gesture of good faith by donating immediately, and Franke did her research and then they had that lovely dinner, I have to say that Mark's e-mail just rubbed me the wrong way. (If you're a teacher, then why were there typos in your damn letter? Argh.) I probably would have fobbed him off.
posted by bettafish at 5:40 PM on February 5, 2009


I wouldn't do this, only because I have the social skills of a sponge cake.
posted by mmmleaf at 6:47 PM on February 5, 2009


In college, I had a long email correspondence with someone who knew who I was, but I didn't know who she was. I kept expecting there to be some sort of punchline.
posted by roll truck roll at 7:21 PM on February 5, 2009


"I'd say no. Sorry. Just not comfortable having someone I've never met before come into my house."

It's too bad that fear, standoffishness and reflexive suspicion of one's fellows are so deeply ingrained in the American psyche. We don't even let our kids outside to play anymore.

You're a guy, aren't you?

I think many women who read the premise thought to themselves--at least for a moment-- "With all my luck it's that crazy ex or stalker or creepy guy from the bus/office with poor physical boundaries getting creative to find out my address and plan one of those push-in home invasions."
posted by availablelight at 4:52 AM on February 6, 2009


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