Presidents’ Day at the William Henry Harrison Museum – The New Yorker
Meet Enid Borden, the lonely docent at the William Henry Harrison Museum, in Vincennes, Indiana. It’s her job to welcome visitors and give them tours of the home of the ninth President of the United States, if and when they show up. So desperate was she for company, Enid didn’t even question it when the former homeowner himself appeared on Presidents’ Day morning.
William Henry Harrison: I’d imagine there’d be a big crowd today.
Enid Borden: And why is that, sir?
W.H.H.: Well, it is Presidents’ Day, is it not?
E.B.: Yes . . .
W.H.H.: And I was a President, was I not?
E.B.: Indeed, you were, sir. Our nation’s ninth President.
W.H.H.: So . . .
E.B.: But this day is for Presidents Washington and Lincoln.
W.H.H.: Just them?
E.B.: I’m sorry, sir.
W.H.H.: Why them?
E.B.: Well, if you recall, Washington was our nation’s first President.
W.H.H.: And this Lincoln?
E.B.: Our sixteenth President. He freed the slaves and preserved the union during a civil war.
W.H.H.: Not bad.
E.B.: While the only thing of note you did, with all due respect, was die of pneumonia a month after you took office.
W.H.H.: So I don’t get a day?
E.B.: No, sir.
W.H.H.: Not even half of a day?
E.B.: Do the math, sir. At best, you’d get an hour.
W.H.H.: I could have done a lot, had I lived.
E.B.: Then why didn’t you wear a hat or topcoat when you gave your Inaugural Address?
W.H.H.: Because I was sixty-eight years old and wanted to show everyone that my age wouldn’t be a factor in my Presidency!
E.B.: Good plan.
W.H.H. (Looking around): The place looks great. Pretty much as I remember it. Except, what’s that over there?
E.B.: That’s a gift shop, sir.
W.H.H.: Oh, my. What do you sell?
E.B.: Copies of your Presidential paper.
E.B.: You only had time for one—the parchment on which you scribbled, “Why the hell am I sweating so much?” Which we also believe were your last words, sir.
W.H.H. (Shaking his head): I had such big plans. Tell me, who’s the President now?
E.B.: His name is Donald Trump. His Inauguration was last month.
W.H.H.: How old is he?
W.H.H.: Did he wear a topcoat?
E.B.: Unfortunately, yes.
W.H.H.: Sounds like you don’t like the man.
E.B.: Actually, a lot of people don’t.
W.H.H.: What a terrible situation. What’s going to happen?
E.B.: No one knows. But what choice do we have, except to keep yelling “I can’t believe what that asshole did today” until he’s out of office, at which point the cumulative exhaled carbon dioxide will help photosynthesize every tree on Earth and hopefully refreeze the polar caps—so, silver lining. Something wrong, sir? Why are you crying?
W.H.H.: People liked me!
E.B.: Yes, 52.9 per cent of the population voted for you.
W.H.H.: And felt sad when I died . . .
E.B.: On April 4, 1841.
W.H.H.: Can you hug me?
E.B.: Mr. President . . .
E.B.: Like this?
W.H.H.: Yes, and one more thing?
E.B.: What’s that, Mr. President?
W.H.H.: Keep calling me Mr. President?
E.B.: With pleasure, for the next four years. But hopefully less.