The president steps through the roaring curtain at Town Hall.

We applaud until our arms hurt and our hands ache.

We shout until the ushers set off flairs enforcing silence.

The orchestra tunes itself.  The audience sings the national anthem.

The president and Mrs. Roosevelt are smiling in  their box.

FDR is a strange fellow, I thought — not like the

other presidents we’ve had.  Not like Harding.  Not like Hoover.

He attracts mad adulation from the masses — that I know.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt is loved and looked up to, a

mode of hope for millions.  He has warm kind eyes.


Paraphrases from the story “The President” from Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme.