1. Every portrait makes me look like a relief pitcher for the 1974 Chicago White Sox.
If you can colorize the Wizard of Oz, why can’t you modernize Presidential portraits, especially of those no one remembers? Like the ones after Lincoln and the two drunks until we get to Taft and Teddy Roosevelt. I stress ate in the White House. I never expected Garfield to be shot. I thought I would join the ranks of obscure Vice Presidents. I banked on the fact I’d be the subject of a trivia night question only answered correctly by some unemployed barista who majored in history at Vassar. The sideburn chops were in at the time, and I couldn’t help my weakness for salted meats and bourbon-infused peach puffs.
2. My Manhattan home is now a Middle Eastern spice shop.
Millard Fillmore’s home is a museum. Even Andrew Johnson’s home is a National Historic Site. Not one historian has ever ranked me worse than those two dimwits. So how does New York City honor me and my house at 123 Lexington Avenue, the place where I took the oath of office after my dear friend, James Garfield, was assassinated? By selling it to an Armenian family that opened a grocery store.
Their chutney and mango pickles are to die for. But you couldn’t preserve a room where I took the oath of office for, you know, the highest office in the land? Couldn’t there be a micro exhibit with a mechanical Mr. Arthur, like the Abraham Lincoln one in Disneyland, educating people about important political achievements like the reform of the Civil Service? He could make announcements periodically: “If you’re making baba ganoush tonight don’t forget our house brand tahini, which you can find on aisle 5!”
3. The high school named after me sucks at football.
We haven’t fielded a competitive team since the Carter Administration. Losing to schools named after George Washington and Abraham Lincoln is excusable. But the Mayor Koch School for the Arts just hung 50 on us after warming up to The Cure and led by a Quarterback who looked like the Pillsbury Throwboy. I’m also now taking grief from President Harding after the school board outlawed our fans’ signature Mutton Chop.
4. I never got credit for inventing the phrase “Thank God it’s Friday.”
I’ve taken a lot of heat for having 80 pairs of pants. But you can thank my sartorial indulgences for boneless wings. I was with my tailor, Giuseppi Buttafuoco, on Friday, October 8, 1880. I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I loved getting a new pair of trousers: Size 44 X 32 Athletic Fit. Giuseppi would tailor them over the weekend so I could start Monday with a fresh set of threads. Giuseppi was a great tailor but engaged in endless small talk. It would get awkward when he started complaining about his nagging wife. I once filled the awkward void by saying, “Well. Thank God it’s Friday!”
The next week I entered Giuseppi’s shop and he had made a wooden sign with my quote on it: “Thank God it’s Friday! —Chester A. Arthur.” The sign was passed down to that son-of-a-bitch Grover Cleveland. But when he assumed the Presidency he struck my name from the quote. When Benjamin Harrison became President in 1889, he reinserted my name and I thought we were in the clear. But then that ne’er-do-weller Grover Cleveland inexplicably became President again, and he used permanent ink to remove it. Now they cite the phrase as stemming from a 1978 movie starring Donna Summer and Jeff Goldblum. WRONG!
5. That Goldendoodle needs to stop urinating on my statute in Madison Square.
Other former presidents are honored with numerous statues and plaques; “Gerald Ford ate Tacos Here!” Rutherford Hayes has a national holiday dedicated to him in Paraguay. My historic site is smaller than a lawnmower shed, and you gave me one monument.
Granted, the location in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park is prime real estate. But a mutt the owners portend to be a high-end Goldendoodle urinates every day at my base. I get that nature calls, but my God, what the hell is it drinking? It takes about four hours for the smell to dissipate, and it chases away tourists who would otherwise saunter up and say, “Wow! Just why I came to New York! A statute of Chester A. Arthur! An underrated president who was a staunch abolitionist who was instrumental in desegregating New York City streetcar lines and who presided over the re-birth of the US Navy.” But I digress.
6. Most guys named Chet nowadays are pompous assholes.
Every Chet on earth and in heaven is wearing a Vineyard Vines pullover and bragging about how much coke he scored at Cornell even though he actually went to SUNY Purchase. Do me a favor. If you don’t think you’re an asshole, but people keep calling you an asshole, you’re probably missing something and you’re an asshole. And if your name is Chet, please change it to Cole or Chase. Or think outside the box. Grover. Or Rutherford.