(The following is a one-act play based on an incident in the life of Abraham Lincoln. The incident may or may not be true. The point is I was tired when I wrote it.)
(Lincoln with boyish eagerness beckons George Jennings, his press secretary, into the room.)
Jennings: Mr. Lincoln, you sent for me?
Lincoln: Yes, Jennings. Come in. Sit down.
Jennings: Yes, Mr. President?
Lincoln: (Unable to suppress a grin.)
I want to discuss an idea.
Jennings: Of course, sir.
Lincoln: Next time we have a conference for the gentlemen of the press . . .
Jennings: Yessir . . . ?
Lincoln: When I take questions . . .
Jennings: Yes, Mr. President . . . ?
Lincoln: You raise your hand and ask me: Mr. President, how long do you think a man's legs should be?
Jennings: Pardon me?
Lincoln: You ask me: how long do I think a man's legs should be?
Jennings: May I ask why, sir?
Lincoln: Why? Because I have a very good answer.
Jennings: You do?
Lincoln: Long enough to reach the ground.
Jennings: Excuse me?
Lincoln: Long enough to reach the ground. That's the answer! Get it? How long do you think a man's legs should be? Long enough to reach the ground!
Jennings: I see.
Lincoln: You don't think it's funny?
Jennings: May I be frank, Mr. President?
Well, I got a big laugh with it today.
Lincoln: Absolutely. I was with the cabinet and some friends and a man asked it and I shot back that answer and the whole room broke up.
Jennings: May I ask, Mr. Lincoln, in what context did he ask it?
Lincoln: Pardon me?
Jennings: Were you discussing anatomy? Was the man a surgeon or a sculptor?
Lincoln: Why-er-no-I-I-don't think so. No. A simple farmer, I believe.
Jennings: Well, why did he want to know?
Lincoln: Well, I don't know. All I know is he was someone who had requested an audience with me urgently . . .
Lincoln: What is it, Jennings, you look pale?
Jennings: It is a rather odd question.
Lincoln: Yes, but I got a laugh off it. It was a quick answer.
Jennings: No one's denying that, Mr. Lincoln.
Lincoln: A big laugh. The whole cabinet just broke up.
Jennings: And then did the man say anything?
Lincoln: He said thank you and left.
Jennings: You never asked why he wanted to know?
Lincoln: If you must know, I was too pleased with my answer. Long enough to reach the ground. It came out so fast. I didn't hesitate.
Jennings: I know, I know. It's just, well, this whole thing's got me worried.
from "The Query" by Woody Allen