Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Abe v. FredEx

One of the great things about working in Washington, D.C. is all the history and culture you come across. Sometimes it sneaks up on you. My brother Jim and I both work in the city, so the other day we decided to get some lunch at this great Chinese place on 10th Street. As we're walking back we come upon Ford's Theatre, where Abraham Lincoln was shot. We had some time to kill, and we'd never been inside, so we broke the lock using a switchblade and gave ourselves a tour.

We immediately checked out the booth that Lincoln was shot in. The atmosphere was eerie. It felt as if Lincoln's ghost was standing right there with us. As Jim sat in Lincoln's seat, pretending to be Captain Kirk, I felt the fabric on the curtains.

"Is this genuine alpaca?" I wondered, as it felt a lot like this alpaca I used to have. Behind the curtain I noticed a dusty, wooden box. I picked it up and read the inscription on top:

ABE LINCOLN'S TIME CAPSULE: 1865.

"Whoa!" I exclaimed. I dropped the box as if it had burnt my hands. This couldn't be? One of the great presidents and one of the great men of all time had left a time capsule?

"Do you think we should open it?" Jim said, eyeing the box as if it were the Holy Grail.

"Hey, time capsules are made to be found," I reasoned, flipping it open. "I'm sure Abe would have wanted us to look at it and sell it on eBay."

It was full of old, musty papers turned yellow and it smelled like a 90 year old librarian. Time had ravaged the papers, but the writing was still legible. Jim and I both examined the letter:

Dear Friend - my name is Abraham Lincoln. I am the 16th president of the United States, and I am penning this letter so that future generations can hear my side of this story. Our nation has been torn asunder by war, but the end may soon be in clear view. This conflict has rocked America to its very core, and its effects will reverberate throughout the generations. To that end, there is no doubt. However, this is not what I would like to talk about in this time capsule. I would like to use this limited space before me to express my desire to document the fact that Frederick Douglass is a giant punk bitch.

Jim and I looked at each other in amazement. What? The man who emancipated the slaves, calling out one of the great civil rights leaders in the history of mankind? What else could we do but continue reading?

Don't get me wrong. I agree with what he stands for. Human equality is a good-ass idea, in my book. But this beef goes beyond politics. It all started at this after-party we threw at the White House after the Emancipation Proclamation. It was your standard house party - people playing moonshine pong, a few couples making out, a dog wandering around that everybody keeps half-heartedly petting, and that one loner in the corner nobody knows who constantly sending telegrams. At around 1:30 it starts winding down. Frederick has had a lot to drink, which was cool. We made sure everybody either had a designated buggy or a place to crash. I let Fred know, several times, that he was more than welcome to stay here for the night. He keeps reassuring me that he would be cool to get home, but at some point he starts talking about how he can't sleep on the floor because it fucks with his back so he'll need one of the couches. Okay, then. He's staying, I guess. Mary Todd and I go to grab some blankets.

But see the thing is this - he wouldn't go to sleep. He keeps on dancing. He, Ulysses Grant and Gideon Welles are lighting up splifs and dancing with all these girls who nobody seems to know. I certainly didn't invite them. But I played it cool until about ten minutes later. I'm talking to Secretary of the Treasury William Seward over in the corner when Freddie dances his way over and accidently steps on my foot.

I turned around, and firmly, but POLITELY, say, "Yo dawg, you stepped on my shoe."

Freddie whirls around and says, "Yeah? What do you want me to do about it?"

I start to get heated. "I'm saying man, you could grab a paper towel and wipe off the smudge. That's all I'm asking for. I mean, look at it, dude. That's a significant smudge."

So then he pushes me.

Big mistake.

I didn't fly off the handle. But I grab my secretary Ms. Kennedy, who had been making out with William Tecumseh Sherman in the grotto, and I dictate a letter. I tell her - right in front of Douglass and everybody else to hear - that me and Frederick Douglass will take part in a bare-fisted brawl on the White House lawn. July 4th, 1865. 9 PM. 12 rounds. No rules, no mercy. And this is not just a challenge. I am making this a law. If Frederick Douglass does not fight me like a man, then I will throw his black ass in the slammer, and we'll see how many Pumas he can smudge in there.

Douglass is looking at me the whole time like, "What the fuck, man?" He storms out.

Grant grabs me by the shoulders. "Let's get you to bed, Abe. You're just wasted."

I shake him off. "U, I haven't had a drink in like three hours. I've been cleaning his cigarette butts out of the carpet. I'm ready to let heads roll up in this motherfucker."

Anyways, Frederick told me he has no plans to show up for the fight, but I am printing out flyers anyway. Either he fights me or goes to jail. It's his pick. I just want future generations to know that while Frederick Douglass was a courageous and inspiring civil rights leader, when it came to fighting the president in a one-on-one street fight, he is an unequivocal bitch.

You know, it's funny. The first Lincoln-Douglas debates ended with me rallying against the enslavement of the black man. Now, THIS Lincoln-Douglass debate is going to end up with me getting my foot stuck up a black man's ass. Ironic, huh? Abe out.


We put the letter down and stepped away from it. What an incredible discovery, yet at the time, what a tragedy, that such an awesome fight between two great men could never take place before Lincoln's untimely demise. Not only had we made an incredible historical find, but we were holding a document that would fetch millions of dollars. By coming across this frayed, decaying piece of paper, we were going to receive a payout that would guarantee us financial security for years to come.

That's right about the time the cops showed up. Threw us in the clink for breaking and entering. They took the letter into evidence and we haven't seen it since. Dad had to come over from work to bail us out. He was pretty pissed.

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