“Lincoln’s Bedpan,” by Ravi Mangla

Dec 20th, 2008 | By | Category: Prose

Antique Roadshow is in town. I stop in. Why not? I tell them I’ve got something that’s going to knock their argyle socks off. Lincoln’s bedpan. His actual bedpan. That he peed in while president. Circa 1867. Like a golden apple that’s tumbled down the family tree.

He puts on his bifocals, turns it over in his hands.

I tell him Ben Franklin used it once also.

He tells me Ben Franklin died nineteen years before Abraham Lincoln was born; furthermore, Lincoln died in 1865.

I tell him I meant 1857.

He tells me Buchanan was president then.

Don’t you think I know that, I say, and tell him that I was only testing him; it’s Buchanan’s bedpan. The great John Buchanan.



He stares at me for a while.

I ask him if he wants it or not.

He tells me this is Antique Roadshow: they don’t buy, they assess.

After a lengthy silence, I ask him for the verdict.

He says it’s plastic, factory-made, from the Information Age, the Bush Dynasty, and according to the Wal-Mart price tag, twelve ninety-five plus tax.

I tell him I’ll sell it for two-hundred, not a penny less.




I tell him he’s crazy, ought to learn a real trade. I take Buchanan’s bedpan back and go off in search of a second opinion, or else see if the guy in the wheelchair is still willing to trade me his pink flamingo for it.


Ravi Mangla is currently working on a film-to-novel adaptation of Big Momma’s House 2. Visit him at http://ravimangla.blogspot.com/.

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