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AMERICA, HAIRBALLS OF HISTORY, a television series

Episode 1: Washington’s Wooden Teeth

© 2012 by Richard Ploetz

All Rights Reserved

Mutt Huffington hosts a satiric American history series where he focuses on an absurd or outrageous imagining from the life of a figure in American history.


Washington’s Wooden Teeth introduces the invention of the lead condom—not only a necessity for engaging in that most intimate act with a wearer of wooden teeth, but a remarkable precursor to recycling, that most revered of 21st Century phenomena.


CU, title: AMERICA: HAIRBALLS OF HISTORY with theme music from Charles Ives’s “Three Places in New England: Putnam’s Camp: Redding”. Graphics added: “With your host, Mutt Huffington”. Spoken in voice over.


Interior, MD, long, narrow livingroom,  MUTT seated in rocker speaking on old rotary phone. He wears a sport coat and slacks, tie, loafers. Behind him an upright piano, beside him a spinning wheel, on the other side an end table with a lit lamp and an old wooden woodcutter/nutcracker, Hantz. Ives’s music continues from previous. Camera, hand held, draws closer, and MUTT noticing, signs off with person on phone and hangs it up. Music fades out, and he addresses camera.



Good evening, I’m Mutt Huffington and this is this is America: Hairballs of History.


CU, right side Mutt’s face. He turns head and directly addresses camera.



We have a story for you tonight, an apercu into the lives of two of our founding fathers. Learn about George Washington’s wooden teeth, and how they got that way. Not to mention Thomas Jefferson.


CU, front of Mutt’s face. But he continues looking to his right, as though the camera were still there.



Sit back and . . .


Realizing camera has moved, Mutt looks for it, finds it, and continues




Sit back, switch off your electronics and turn on your minds. Risk enlightenment from another episode of America: Hairballs of History. Tonight: Washington’s Wooden Teeth.


Phone rings – Mutt answers it as Ives’s music comes up.



Hello? Yes, I’m back. Sorry I had to . . . 


Music swells and camera backs to MD, same spot this sequence began, as Mutt goes on speaking into phone, heard indistinctly. Fadeout. Music comes down, but plays behind next shot.


LD of a vast audience from an old newsreel – perhaps one of Hitler’s rallies – or from a rock concert at the L A Bowl – Carnegie Hall – the Army/Navy football game, etc. The crowd is waiting with a hushed air of anticipation. *Note: the “audience-reaction shots” can be different each time – different locations, sometimes long shots, sometimes close-ups of individual audience members. The reactions are generally not appropriate to the lecture being delivered.


Reverse shot: MD, lecture podium before greenwall. SILAS PETTABONE comes out to podium bearing his lecture notes. Ives music fades, transitioning into wild applause.


Reverse shot: audience on their feet, applauding, whistling, etc.


Reverse: SILAS trying to calm them. Their sound track abruptly cut. SILAS, a bit shy, nervous, apprehensive –produces spectacles, puts them on, checks his notes – looks out, clears throat, begins.



It is a little known fact that George Washington died of lead poisoning. So, this report concerns itself mainly with Thomas Jefferson’s lead condom. Washington lost his teeth from blowing Jefferson who invented it because the Father of Our Country had syphilis. 


Audience reaction – shock? – just sound track.



That’s why he looks the way he does on the dollar bill. But even after Washington lost his teeth and acquired the famous wooden ones . . .


Greenwall: picture of wooden teeth, perhaps labeled, with arrows pointing to “Oak incisors; Rock maple molars; Cherry eye teeth . . .”



Jefferson continued with the lead condom. He didn’t want to get splinters. He hadn’t yet gotten to be President, though he had a lot of illegitimate children. 


Sound track – canned laughter. Perhaps shot of the “Laughing Gypsy” automaton at Coney Island.



Which brings us to the true reason Thomas Jefferson invented the lead rubber, or “cock hose”, as it was known in colonial times. Hence to “ride a cock hose”, which historians of the Victorian period corrupted into “horse”. “Ride a cock horse”. 


Greenwall: Man riding a rockinghorse.



We have restored the original term. “Hose”. In fact the nomenclature “prophylactic”, with which we are familiar today, hadn’t yet been coined by Julius Lebbertropp of Troy, New York, around 1910, and who, incidentally, nicknamed his true rubber rubber, “The Hudson River White Shark”.


Greenwall: visuals to accompany this bit of history: Lebbertrop, lads swimming, condoms, Milly-Kant Arbus-Booten Lebbertrop, etc.



Lebbertropp, you see, lived down beside the river and was in the habit of snapping his Trojans out the widow when he was done. Some lads happened to be swimming and cried out SHARKS! SHARKS! in ignorance they were two hundred miles from salt water and about to be consumed by several “white sharks” six inches long and made of Indja rubber. Lebbertropp’s wife, Milly-Kant Arbus-Booten Lebbertropp, was fond of calling it “Glove With One Finger”. But our third President actually possessed only one lead rubber, which he called “The Investigator”. 


Greenwall: teasing 2-second shot of THE INVESTIGATOR, blown up, hardly recognizable.

Reaction shot of audience – ohhs and ahhhs.




You must understand that the Jeffersonian Age was not a disposable one like ours. You scrubbed things out, mended them, and used them over and over, canning jars to condoms. 


Greenwall: old film of woman washing dishes – continue behind the following:




Jefferson’s original “Investigator”, alas, has not come down to us with half-sons, also half-witted, though a staunch patriot, apparently melted the device down early in 1812 to make bullets for the war effort. Now I ask you, how many slugs can be cast from a condom, if a condom can be cast into slugs? 


Shot of STANDISH TOEFOORD INK-WAT – close-up: he holds up 4 fingers.




Three. According to our sources.


Audience shot: laughter.




“The Investigator” was one of a kind . . . Not used once and flushed down the toilet. Jefferson hadn’t yet invented the toilet, and even if he had, I’m sure you see, a lead rubber would hardly flush down it even if it had. 


Greenwall: film of someone try to flush something down a toilet – it overflows, etc.



No, “The Investigator” was carefully reamed after each use, much as the old muskets were reamed, and given a coat of bear grease. A peg, thrust-ing out of a Monticello wall, was for historians a long-time mystery. 


Greenwall: Cartoon of a peg sticking out of a wall with question mark beside it.



Hang the cock-hose on when not in use! 


Greenwall: cartoon (animation?) of THE INVESTIGATOR being hung on peg.

Cut to 3 Stooges doing routine.




When his invention sprang leaks, Jefferson “torched it”. That is, lightly flambed his cock-hose in the flame of a Bunson burner.

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