Sunday, July 31, 2011
If there's one thing I've learned in my years of surfing the 'net, it's that most of my fellow travelers here on the World Wide Web are big, fat idiots. Being the selfless, concerned person that I am, I often like to do my part in educating them about certain things that I'm sure they're too stupid to know. So today, I'm going to give everyone a little history lesson, just so you'll at least have a few useful facts rolling around in your big empty skulls.
Abraham Lincoln was our twenty-fourth President. I don't know if that's the exact number, but it's close enough to sound correct. There are only five or six Presidents who were important enough for us to need to know anything about, and he's one of them. Guys like Grover Cleveland and Millard Fillmore might as well have been hot dog vendors at Coney Island for all the historical significance they have. Their names exist now only as fodder for jokes, such as this one:
Millard Fillmore who?
Oh, never mind.
Anyway, Abraham Lincoln was the most interesting of all the Presidents because he was the most similar to some really off-the-wall fictional character. He was a tall, gangly weirdo who had a funny beard and wore stovepipe hats, even when he was a little kid, and he danced funny. It is said that at the annual Halloween party that was held in his neck of the woods, he was the only kid who always showed up as himself. All the other kids were ghosts or witches or clowns, but he would always be Abraham Lincoln. This was enough to win first prize in the costume contest every year, which was a volume of the Finster and Woolworth Encyclopedia. It took Abraham Lincoln twenty-six years to complete his collection of these, which is why he was thirty-eight years old before he even knew that there was such a thing as zebras. When he finally found out about them, it blew his mind. Which is why the period of his life between ages thirty-eight and forty-two is referred to by most historians as "The Women's Underwear Years."
Little known by just about everyone is the fact that Abraham Lincoln was a huge "Star Wars" fan. Of course, "Star Wars" would not exist until over a century after his death, but he wasn't one to let a little thing like that stop him. He often perplexed friends, relatives, and fellow politicians by waxing enthusiastic about characters like Boba Fett, Jabba the Hut, and Jar Jar Binks, and how the rebel forces in their X-wing starfighters defeated Darth Vader and Moff Tarkin and blew up the Death Star. This story was particulary puzzling to members of the House and Senate during Lincoln's 1862 "State of the Union" address, because it seemed to have so little to do with the Civil War. Lincoln's biggest regret during that time was that he had no way of buying Star Wars action figures. He once asked a blacksmith to make some for him, but they turned out looking a lot like horseshoes. Lincoln tried to account for this by creating a fictional race of aliens he called the Horseshoopians, but he could never figure out a way to work them into established Star Wars canon.
Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theater in 1865, shortly after the end of the Civil War. The play he was watching at the time was called "Our American Cousin", which was a notoriously boring play whose chief attraction was that it was performed entirely by dogs walking around on their hind legs, with their dialogue being shouted by unseen actors from backstage. One particularly florid love scene was climaxed by the line "Oh, my dearest Josephine! Pray, allow me to express the depth of my undying love for you", at which time the dog who was supposed to be saying this took a long, leisurely whiz on a nearby potted plant. This prompted the incredibly bored Lincoln to exclaim under his breath: "Somebody, please shoot me." John Wilkes Booth, who was about to do just that, took this as a validation of his actions by fate itself, so he shot him. A fellow theatergoer named "Biff" Zapruder, who was such a huge Lincoln fan that he vowed his every male descendant would henceforth be named "Abraham", was sketching the President at that exact moment and captured it for posterity.
If one examines the sketch closely, it becomes apparent that the President's head is snapping back...and to the left. This prompts many historians to suspect that Booth was not the "lone gunman" and was part of a conspiracy that might well have included the author of "Our American Cousin", Finster Woolworth. Further examination of the picture reveals that John Wilkes Booth's head was much too big for his body, which garnered him such childhood nicknames as "Big Head Booth" and "Old Fathead." Indeed, the man on the far left is said to have shouted "Hey! What the hell do you think you're doing, Big Head?" This may account in part for Booth's general hostility and desire to eliminate big "heads" of state.
Anyway, Booth knew that this was a historical moment, so he tried to think of something cool to say. But all he could come up with was "Sic semper tyrannus!", which illicited groans from the audience and remarks like "what the hell does that mean?" and "well, that was lame." He attempted to gloss over this by making an impressive leap from Lincoln's box to the stage, but managed to trip over a banner and break his leg, making himself look like an even bigger doofus. (This, by the way, was the origin of the oft-heard saying "break a leg", which is usually said by one Presidential assassin to another right before a big assassination attempt.) At this point, Booth staggered to his feet and cried, "Wait! I thought of something else!" and then began to quote Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar":
"How many times shall this, our lofty scene be acted o'er, in states unborn and accents yet unknown?"
Booth waited eagerly for a response, but was met only by the sound of crickets. Feeling something moist, he looked down to find the star of the play whizzing on his leg. This caused the audience to laugh hysterically, and Booth, fed up with the whole thing, limped offstage with a lame "Shut up!", which prompted more laughter. Then everyone remembered that Lincoln had just been shot, and the nation mourned.
A century and a half later, we still remember Abraham Lincoln, and his stovepipe hat, and how much he loved "Star Wars." He never got to act with Luke, Chewie, or Jar Jar, but he did appear as himself on an episode of "Star Trek." We also celebrate his birthday by going to Wal-Mart and buying cheap underwear. And there is a car named after him that is highly popular with members of the Mafia, not to mention the fact that the black guy in "The Mod Squad" was named after him, which is pretty fly for a white guy. And that, my friends, is how we, and history itself, should remember Abraham Lincoln, our twenty-third President. He was, indeed..."pretty fly for a white guy."
(originally posted at http://www.andersonvision.com/)