"A woman is an occasional pleasure, but a cigar is always a smoke." - Groucho Marx
Beloved as perhaps our nation's greatest leader, as a universal icon of freedom and liberty, and as an innovative visionary in the face of a collapsing Union, in the day-to-day, however, Abraham Lincoln's life was actually filled with a great deal of hardship, loss, depression, frailty and suffering.
Born in Kentucky on February 12, 1809, his family relocated several times during his childhood, finally settling in Illinois, now known as the "Land of Lincoln." His mother died when he was only ten, and he was left in the care of his abusive father. As legend has it, as a teen, Abe split rails for fences and was an avid reader, practically self-taught, reading on the job and at night by oil lamp.
As a young man he became a captain in the Black Hawk War, and then settled down and practiced law in Springfield. He was elected to several terms in the Illinois State Legislature, and ultimately won two of possibly the most chaotic terms any U.S. president has ever known. He cautiously struggled to save the Union, mindfully fought for emancipation and the abolishment of slavery, tirelessly campaigned Civil War battlefields to boost the morale of the Union troops, and thoughtfully struggled over the precise message for his Gettysburg Address -- quite possibly the most eloquent speech ever given by a sitting President at a time of national catastrophe. And then, in the flash of a fanatic's bullet, was executed by an actor and Confederacy supporter, John Wilkes Booth.
While alive, Lincoln labored, struggled and fought on a daily basis for every brilliant thing he achieved... except it seems when it came to romance, which if history tells it correctly, came easy and often to him.
Even without the aid of modern commercial conveniences such as heart-shaped boxes overflowing with hand-dipped chocolates, long-stemmed roses, toast points smothered in caviar, "slinky little-nothings," little turquoise boxes crammed with diamonds, imported Champagne bubbling in elegant crystal stems, or jungle-red lipstick-kiss-sealed cards filled with breathless words of passion... he still managed to became a connoisseur of love.
If Honest Abe had sent St. Valentine's Day cards, honestly...he probably wouldn't have gotten much of anything else accomplished. Over his lifetime, our 16th President (himself, seemingly "A House Divided") assembled a curiously long and varied list of paramours. To name but a rumored few: Orville Browning, John Hay, William Herndon, John Nicolay, Mary Owens, Sarah Rickard, Ann Rutledge, William Seward, Joshua Speed and ultimately, Mary Todd. (No wonder the poor man had headaches!)
But how synchronicitous it is that Abie-baby's Birthday and Valentines Day fall so close on the calendar. To that end, I've now decided to combine the celebration of his birth with the chocolate "O.D.-ing" day for sweethearts into one ultimate celebration of "Lincoln-tine Day." It's difficult not to blur the presidential lover's birthday with the day set aside for all lovers.
Therefore, in honor of our swinging 16th President and the fact that he might have had to deal with the same problems that many 21st Century sweethearts also contend with, for "Lincoln-tines Day," I'm devoting this column to the removal of lipstick.
I don't wear lipstick myself (Okay...who here is surprised?), so I went out and purchased a tube of the cheapest and brightest fire-engine red I could find to prove my "zen-cleansing" point...you don't need scary, toxic chemicals to remove lipstick stains. (However, may I first take this moment to strongly suggest avoiding ever getting lipstick on your cloths in the first place? Man-o-man...it's really stubborn to remove and requires a great deal of patience -- but it's do-able. It's kinda' like peeling an onion by carefully removing layer after layer. And the tedious process can cause almost as many tears!)
To begin, whenever attempting to make the sexy smear disappear, gently "dab" the lipstick smudge with a white tissue until no more lifts off the garment and onto the hankie (use as many tissues as you need to reach this point, only dabbing a clean area onto the lipstick!). This is only your first step in removing the oily color-infused part of the lipstick. (Do not-I repeat, don't "rub" with the tissue or you'll just make the stain worse, and even that much harder to remove.)
Next, laying the stained area of your fabric onto a hard non-porous surface, completely cover the lipstick smear with a dry mini-mountain of baking soda. Using a dry, soft nail or spare toothbrush, in small stroking motions, "sweep" the remaining lipstick into the dry baking soda and vise-ey-versey. At this stage, you'll be amazed at how much more of the pigment and oil still comes out of the fabric attaching itself to the baking soda (which will turn very pink).
When you are certain that no more lipstick is coming out of the fabric, shake the color-infused baking soda into your nearest trash can-avoiding getting it on anything.
Although you will still see a ghost of the original mark, cover it again with a fresh heap of baking soda, but this time dribble a few drops of white vinegar onto the mound until it starts to bubble up. (You'll like this part!)
When the vinegar-baking soda mixture finishes bubbling, add just a few drops of clear dish detergent to the area and scrub like the dickens. If the lipstick stain hasn't disappeared completely, rinse the area in cold water, repeat the steps above, and then launder as usual. The telltale stain should be gone.
As for Lincoln's lipstick smeared collar? Who really knows? Good guess...Honest Abe's odds were fifty-fifty.
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