Column Date 2005-12-14

Washington crosses the Delaware (revised, 2005)

“General Washington, sir,” says his aide, shaking George awake. “It’s time to get up. We’re crossing the Delaware tonight.”

Washington turns over in his cot and peers sleepily at the aide.

“How many men are crossing?” he asks.

“About 5,400, sir.”

”And I assume we have Personal Flotation Devices for each man?”


“PFDs – they’re required for water safety. We can’t have soldiers drowning before we attack the Hessians, can we?”

“No, sir. I’ll go check on the PDFs.” The aide rushes out.

The Chief Legal Counsel of the Revolutionary Army enters the tent.

“Good morning, General.”

“Morning, Cliff. What’s up?”

“Well, sir, the troops from Maine refuse to waive their right to sue if their government-issued muskets don’t work properly.”

Washington shakes his head.

“And the boys from Pennsylvania are concerned about their rations. They say the food is not heart-healthy and contains way too much hydrogenated vegetable oil, sir.”

Washington angrily struggles to put in his false teeth.

“Not only that, but a corporal from upstate New York cut himself on his bayonet and is going to sue us for not having a warning label on it.”

“Dammit, Cliff. This insubordination has gone far enough. Let’s just get the troops organized and move out to the boats.”

“Ah, yes, the boats. Well, General, the boats we ordered have been held up at customs. Something to do with an anti-dumping lawsuit by the U.S. boat manufacturers.”

“They know we’re a rag-tag army!” explodes Washington. “Of course we’d like to buy American-made boats, but we just don’t have that kind of money. And, besides, the Italian boats we ordered are not only more stylish, the seats have adjustable lumbar supports.”

“Yes, sir.”

“They don’t expect me to stand all the way across the river, do they?”

“No, sir.”

“They know I’ve got lower back problems,” Washington grumbles, wincing as he pulls his trousers on.

“Yes, sir, I understand,” replies the Legal Counsel. “But then there’s the matter of the milk and cream.”

“The milk and cream?”

“Yes, sir. All the bottles are two weeks past their ‘sell by’ date. The Pennsylvania brigade is quite upset.”

Washington rolls his eyes.

“And there are two gentlemen outside who want to talk about ethical treatment of the horses, sir, especially in this frigid weather.”

At that moment, Washington’s aide rushes back into the tent.

“Good news, General Washington. We don’t have to cross the Delaware to fight the Hessians, sir!”

“What’s that, you say?”

“Yes, sir. Homeland Security stopped the Hessians at immigration. They insisted on bringing weapons into the country, and some of them looked like real troublemakers. They were all sent back home to Hessia, sir.”

“Well,” muses the Chief Counsel, “after centuries of driving normal people crazy, the bureaucracy has finally done something useful.”

“Say, Cliff,” says General Washington, “a real estate friend of mine thinks I should turn my Mount Vernon property into a gated community. What do you think?”

©2005 Peter Tannen