Treasure Island

gershon hepner

(5 3 38 / leipzig)

He Didn't


When Mark Twain was invited to one of the noshes
in the White House his wife begged him: “Please,
I beg you to not wear your winter galoshes:
but show both your trouser legs up to your knees.”

When the time came to leave he approached Cleveland’s wife,
and asked her to sign what he’d written,
two words which he said might perhaps save his life.
He’d written just two words, and they were: “He didn’t.”

Larry Rohter (“Dead for a Century, He’s Ready to Say What He Really Meant, ” NYT,7/10/10) writes about Mark Twain’s unexpurgated autobiography:

As aggrieved as he sometimes appears in the autobiography, the reliable funnyman is in evidence too. Twain recalls being invited to an official White House dinner and being warned by his wife, Olivia, who stayed at home, not to wear his winter galoshes. At the White House, he sought out the first lady, Frances Cleveland, and got her to sign a card on which was written “He didn’t.”

Submitted: Thursday, January 26, 2012
Edited: Friday, January 27, 2012

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