June 11th 1776
10:00 a.m. – Received call from Declaration of Independence subcommittee notifying me that I’ve been “nominated” to write the first draft. I’m pissed. I’m supposed to be in the Hamptons in three days. Now I won’t get my deposit back.
11:00 a.m. – Texed JA (John Adams) asking why me? JA said it was because I’m the only loser not headed out of this stifling Philadelphia humidity. “Since you’re here anyhow,” he said, “why not write a few pages and see where it takes you?” Fine, I said, and then I asked him to do me a favor and stop by Office Depot on his way out of town, pick me up some watermark on 24# paper and some Sharpies, preferably not red, and drop them off. But since JA can’t remember to close his mouth while chewing, I doubt he’ll remember my supplies.
June 12th 1776
8:30 a.m.- My neck was so stiff when I got up this morning because I fell asleep watching The Biggest Loser. It’s a good thing the room I’m renting has cable because I was able to find Hip Hop Abs and work out before writing. I’m not even sure where to start. My Writing 101 instructor at Alexandria Community College said I always need to start with a “zinger.” A zinger is the first sentence of any great work of fiction or non-fiction that keeps the reader interested. Vladimir Nabokov, wrote, “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.” Albert Camus wrote, “Mother died today.” Here’s a few first lines I came up with:
- King George is a drunk.
- Free your mind, and your ass will follow.
- I’m not a rocket scientist, but I’d say we’ve got us some taxation without no representation.
- England, we’re tired of your pasty-faced, inbred monarchs.
- Why are you being so mean?
I didn’t like any of these so I kept writing.
4:00 p.m. – I spent all afternoon on the first paragraph, then got writer’s block so I made some Top Ramen in my hotpot. I forgot to unplug it and around 3:30 the fire alarm went off and the whole hotel had to evacuate. The Philadelphia Fire Department showed up, found my charred hotpot, and I got a citation. I talked the landlord into letting me stay, though – I sort of bribed him with my front row tickets to the American Idol Gives Back tour. I can’t go because I’ll be presenting my draft to Congress.
June 18th 1776
9:35 a.m. – I’ve been trying to work the word prestidigitation somewhere into this draft because Madison once said he didn’t think I was the brightest bulb and he couldn’t figure out why I was a delegate when I never say anything. It’s such a big word, and I really like the way it sounds; it has a sort of choo choo train sound: preh-stuh-di-gi-tay-shun. The problem is that it means “slight of hand”. I’m not sure “slight of hand” fits into what I’m trying to say. I also like the word balls. I’ll try to fit that one in somewhere.
3:30 p.m. Abigail Adams stopped by to see how I’m coming along on the draft. She’s such a fine woman, and I have never understood just what she sees in John. She appears to think quite highly of him, though she did allow that his shoes smell so she makes him leave them on the porch. And he cries when she’s gone to the hen house for more than five minutes. If she weren’t taken, I’d probably ask her over to listen to Led Zeppelin and smoke a bag of weed. She’s also got a nice rack.
6:00 p.m. – After Abigail left I got a few more sentences in, now I’m past the first paragraph – the “when in the course of human events” part which sort of explains why we’re writing all this down – and now I’m onto the list of grievances. This is my favorite part.
June 26th 1776
12:30 p.m. Ben Franklin and JA came over today to read my draft. I’m no suck-up, but I have to admit I was a bit nervous about their response. It didn’t go too badly at first; Ben changed, “we hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable” to “we hold these truths to be self-evident.” Benjamin said my version “smacks too much of the pulpit.” I guess the old geezer is serious about this separation of church and state-thing. I became a bit unbraided, however, that their editing then took the form of making my draft “nicer.” Nice doesn’t put money in the bank and a chicken in the pot, baby! Who cares about NICE? For instance, I called George a “tyrant.” They struck it. I wonder what they would have said about these earlier grievances that I struck:
- We don’t mind quartering your soldiers, but would it be too hard for them to clear their own dishes and put the seat down on the latrine?
- Dentistry – a modern but necessary invention.
- Don’t bother trying to corner the market on automobiles. Stick with what you know.
In their defense, Ben and JA were complimentary, and they said I’d probably be on the one-dollar bill. I’d prefer I larger denomination, if it were up to me.
July 1st 1776
8:00 a.m. Today is the big day!! After I washed up, I put on my clean linen breeches and stockings. (I might run into Abigail!). With any luck, Congress will ratify the revised draft and we’ll be on our way to war! Yippeee!
July 4th 1776 – Well, we presented the draft, and after a few more edits, we’re ready for everyone to sign it. There are 56 delegates, and with any luck, we’ll have it signed within a month’s time. Thank goodness we have the modern conveniences of the messenger on horseback!
P.S. Diary: Abigail invited me to a candle party. I feel kind of funny because I don’t think John is in town that week. More later!!!!