Keys to the White House

Recently the Prime Minister of Japan was given the key to the White House. Yeah, our White House. But the souvenir was not given by the current resident. No, a former resident who dreamed up the idea of a souvenir “Key to the White House” has been giving them out to foreign dignitaries for some time.

            I don’t think it unlocks anything. It’s pretty big. The giant key is gold plated with the presidential seal, and that former president’s name engraved on the side.

            I visited the place once and nobody gave me a key. I guess I was not dignified enough. Oh well, I’d probably misplace it or lose it outright anyway.

            Who knew the White House had a key? Does it even need one? After all, there are Secret Service guards everywhere and a big fence surrounding the place. It’s pretty well protected. Some conspiracy believers say there are even mines planted around the grounds and that the current president’s dog set one off, that’s why it no longer resides there. But I don’t think that’s true.

            If there is a key, is the president the keeper of it? Does he march around the building at midnight in his pajamas checking to see if the doors are locked? There are 412 doors in the White House. He’s a busy man and needs all the sleep he can get. Maybe he assigns that chore to the vice president, who probably isn’t very busy anyway. According to John Nance Garner, a former vice president, the office isn’t “worth a bucket of warm spit” (except he used another term that isn’t appropriate for a family newspaper).

            Is there more than one key? Does the president carry around a chain with 412 keys on it? Does he have his own key to the situation room or the White House bowling alley or movie theater? If he did, he could sneak off, lock the door and watch “Real Housewives of Washington” or take a nap, and no one would know where he was.

            Does he have a key to the wine cellar? Does the White House even have a wine cellar? Inquiring minds want to know.

            Has any president been a sleepwalker, forgotten the key and locked himself out in the middle of the night? The American people should know if their president is a sleepwalker. It’s a good thing presidents aren’t allowed to drive because, if I were the chief executive and had the key to the presidential limousine, I’d love to take out the “beast” for a spin.

            Do they change the locks with each new president? Does it come with the nuclear codes? What do they do with the old keys? Is there a junk draw in the resolute desk filled with keys that other presidents leave behind? Does the new president have to shuffle through it, trying to find the key to the executive washroom?

            Oh, if you were wondering, Theodorus of Samos invented the first key in the 6th century BC to keep important documents safe in lock boxes. According to legend, he wore his key around his neck to show he was wealthy. Does a president wear the White House key around his neck?

            Come to think of it, how many foreign dignitaries have a key to the White House?

            The CIA should keep a list!

            Mattapoisett resident Dick Morgado is an artist and happily retired writer. His newspaper columns appeared for many years in daily newspapers around Boston.

Thoughts on…

By Dick Morgado

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