About bewat7

Author of "Bread and Roses," "Sacco and Vanzetti," and "Freedom Summer"

My Dinner with Exxon — and B of A and GE and…

It had been awhile, my wife said. Maybe we should invite some people over.

“Corporations are people,” I said. “Why not ask some over for Saturday? I’ll make the calls.”

Yes, corporations are people, my friends. You can rage, argue, and curse Citizens United but the nation is trending against you. Just like people, corporations pour money into campaigns. They pay taxes – sometimes. And just like people, corporations can close huge factories, ship everything overseas and leave 10,000 people hungry and jobless in some ugly polluted backwater. So if corporations are people, why not have a few over for dinner?

But who to invite? AT&T? No, they never invite us over. Wal-mart? He always shows up late, drinks too much, and starts spouting off about Obama. Proctor & Gamble? Remember that time Gamble finished off the Chianti and Proctor started shouting “you’re drunk!”  Right at the dinner table? Some people!

After considering all our corporate friends, we narrowed the list to six. Apple couldn’t make it. Another dinner party.

“Guess we’re not on Apple’s A list,” my wife said.

Verizon had the flu, but the other four accepted and asked what they could bring. We told Bank of America to bring a salad, Exxon-Mobil to bring a dessert, and GE to bring the toxic waste someone always brings to a dinner party. Whole Foods asked if she could bring anything but we said, “Just bring your organic self!”

Exxon-Mobil showed up early and it was awkward talking about kids and weather and tax dodges in the Cayman Islands while we made the hummus. When GE arrived, he knew a lot of the same lawyers Exxon-Mobil knew so they hit it off. Bank of America called to say he was running late – something about a SuperPAC contribution that hadn’t corrupted democracy as much as he’d hoped. Just start without him, B of A said. And we did, once Whole Foods arrived with the tofu.

Like most people, our corporate guests were polite. Over appetizers, we made small talk and steered clear of any Chapter 11 bankruptcy discussions. GE asked my wife for her hummus recipe and Exxon-Mobil said he knew a deli in Brooklyn with hummus “to die for.” I took my wife aside and said, “See, corporations are people, my friend.” But then more wine was poured and. . . people will be people.

The trouble began when B of A showed up. Instead of bringing salad, he brought credit card applications. Some people! I told B of A what he could do with the applications and he got all huffy and left. Dinner was served.

The pleasantries continued until Exxon-Mobil asked if the lasagna was vegetarian. It was, but Whole Foods wanted to know if it was gluten free. Are corporations getting pickier or is it just me? I kept calm until Exxon-Mobil stood and announced that global warming was a hoax and it was time Whole Foods admitted it. The two began arguing. Whole Foods asked Exxon-Mobil how the Indonesian lawsuit charging him with human rights violations was going.

“No sweat,” Exxon-Mobil said. “Like most people, I have 700 lawyers and limited liability on my side.” GE said, “Membership has its privileges,” and asked where the bathroom was.

Somehow we made it through the evening. But Whole Foods started talking on her cell phone and GE came out of the bathroom dripping PCBs. We were all relieved when Exxon-Mobil leaned forward and said, “Well…” Within minutes, everyone had left, leaving us to clean up the dishes and the PCBs in the bathroom.

Corporations are people, my friend. And just like people, they can be rude, boring, and ruin Saturday evening. And could one of them invite us over for a change?