Everybody remembers Taft as our fattest president.
Teachers telling us the story: how Taft got stuck
in his own bathtub, how it took four grown men
to dislodge him. We’d gape at the comedy of it:
Taft holding out his fat arms for pulling,
One, Two, Threeeeeeee… and nothing. The three men
wiping their sweaty brows: We need another man.
Poor naked Taft, President of the United States,
and stuck in his cold marble tub, moustache wet
with exasperation. How long did he sit there,
cold and silent, realizing he needed help? Freed,
how long did he stand naked in front of those men
to thank them? Or did he dash off, modest towel
fluttering behind him like a white flag? Don’t think
he didn’t know. His college nickname was Big Lub.
He once sent a telegram to the Secretary of War
which read: Went on a horse ride; feeling good
to which the Secretary responded: How’s the horse?
Even during his presidential campaign, his opponent
gave out buttons that read: Nobody Likes a Fat Boy.
He was six foot, three-hundred and forty pounds.
He knew. But Taft could give a fuck. He was
ballsy. Ballsy enough to build the White House
a new bathtub, a huge bathtub, big enough
for six men, or one President. Ballsy enough
to let Mooly Wooly the cow graze brazenly
on the White House lawn just so that he could
gulp all the fresh milk he wanted. Ballsy enough
that when a New York State Senator named
Chauncey Depew put his skinny hands on Taft’s
wide belly and asked What are you going to call it
when it comes, Mr. President?
Taft just replied, Well, if it’s a boy, I’ll call it
William; if it’s a girl, I’ll call it Theodora; but
if it turns out to be just wind, I’ll call it Chauncey.
Taft was originally published in No, Dear Magazine.
CRISTIN O’KEEFE APTOWICZ has been published in DM, McSweeney’s Internet Tendancies, Rattle, Pank, Barrelhouse, Monkeybicycle, decomP, Umbrella, and The Other Journal, among others. Her books include: Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam and Everything is Everything. For more information, please visit her website: www.aptowicz.com.