Archive for July, 2010

Who’s profiled in Grant’s Facebook page?

July 21st, 2010 2 comments

My wife and I recently visited Galena, Illinois, site of the Ulysses S. Grant Home.

Later, I posted this photo on facebook:

Eagle Ridge Resort - Galena, IL. The keyboardist was playing "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Brendan Gardiner responded:

The milk in that little general store is extremely expensive. I recommend seeing if you can tolerate water on your Cheerios for the duration of your stay.

I responded:

Brendan, everything in Galena is expensive. Especially the fine for peeing in Grant’s bed. Sic semper tyrannis!

Brendan responded:

The fine is pretty exorbitant when you consider how short a time he actually lived there. They are fiercely proprietary over everything Grant there, though, even the jokes. They can’t let the punch line to “Who peed in Grant’s bed?” widen out to include people like you. The whole brand would lose some cachet.

The joke is on them, though, because it is a Trick Question. Like all such plurium interrogationum, Who peed in Grant’s bed? seems to have an obvious answer – GRANT, owing to the fact that he was a first-class drunk who couldn’t hold his liquor, especially “between the sheets.” But that so-called fact is wrong, as wrong as starting a sentence with the word “but,” for Ulysses S. Grant was as sober as you or I.

Grant’s celebrated alcoholism was actually a carefully planned ruse, crafted by the young lieutenant, as he fought in the Mexican–American War, to lull his enemies into a false sense of security and curiosity. Grant knew that no soldier, not even an enemy soldier, would shoot another soldier, not even an enemy soldier, who was vomit-stained, missing one flipflop, and quietly mumbling himself to sleep, i.e., intoxicated. It would be against The Soldier’s Code, and Grant used that knowledge to turn himself into a human booby trap. As his attacker would draw near to subdue this inebriated, docile rival, Grant would suddenly cry, “Jujitsu!,” throw dirt in the now widened eyes of his erstwhile captor, and then either seize or kill the combatant, whichever was more expedient. If, on the other hand, a company of soldiers advanced on the “drunken” Grant, he would alter his strategy by lobbing a grenade fashioned with a bayonet at them.

This ruse worked astoundingly well, and Grant rose quickly through the ranks, first to lieutenant general and then to President of the United States. Of course, the President of the United States has no enemies and no need for ruses. Not wishing to let his talents lay fallow, Grant ingeniously transformed his “Drunk Subterfuge” into a “Drunk Routine,” which he performed annually at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and at various celebrity roasts to great acclaim. Grant also had a beautiful singing voice.

But this is not why it is a Trick Question. Who peed in Grant’s bed? is a Trick Question because it is not Grant’s bed!

The bed in the Ulysses S. Grant Home is merely a prop, placed there by the U.S. Grant Historical Society, or “Grant’s Gang,” in 1953 to make the strangely empty bedroom more attractive to the large number of visiting moto-tourists that President Eisenhower had produced through sheer stamina. Grant himself never used a bed, preferring to sleep standing upright – sometimes leaning against a wall, arms akimbo, but most often standing in the center of the room, without visible support, arms at his side.

Historians disagree – loudly – on the causes of Grant’s unique sleeping habit. Some argue that all Presidents of the United States sleep standing upright, required to do so by the Constitution. A close reading of the Constitution, however, neither confirms nor refutes this requirement. Other historians yell that outgoing President Andrew Johnson simply told incoming President Grant that the Constitution required the Presidents to sleep standing up, you know, as a joke, and he never thought the crazy fucker would actually do it; not for the rest of his life, anyways.

The majority of historians, though, scream bloody murder that Grant really was a first-class drunk who had hollowed-out tree trunks for legs, which allowed him to drink even more and prevented him from falling over when he regularly passed out.

You are now “in” on the “trick” of this Trick Question. The next time some blowhard in a bar bets you $50 that you can’t answer Who peed in Grant’s bed?, you, in fact, do know how to answer. Draw the bettor closer to you by vomiting on yourself or losing one flipflop. Suddenly cry, “Jujitsu!” then throw your Mojito in his now widened eyes. Swipe his $50 to pay for the Mojito you just wasted, and then either seize or kill the combatant. Whichever is more expedient.

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