Melany Perez

Benjamin Franklin sailed the ocean blue …

Shoot, that’s not it.

Benjamin Franklin never told a lie …

No, no, that’s not it either.

So who was Benjamin Franklin? Today, I set out to discover exactly that.

I hop and skip over to the Franklin courtyard and find him right where I expect to, as tarnished and brassy as ever. There he is: the man, the myth, the legend of Benjamin Franklin, carved out in bench form.

“Hello, uh, Mr. Franklin.” There is no reply. I clear my throat — perhaps this will draw his attention

“Hello … um … Hello, Mr. —”

“Please, call me Benjamin,” Mr. Benjamin interjects.

“Oh, alright,” I reply suddenly, hoping he didn’t catch my glimmer of hesitancy when I first arrived or sense my sudden intense fear that someone would see me talking to a bench. 

“Why don’t you have a seat,” he says in an inviting tone. “Who, me?” I think to myself. “Where?” 

“Right here, to my right.” Mr. Benjamin concludes, as if reading my mind. I furrow my brow with confused suspicion and slowly sit down, joining Mr. Benjamin on the bench.

I inform Mr. Benjamin that I’m looking to learn more about him and ask if he’d be interested in a short interview. He humbly obliges, though I almost see a subtle smile playing on his steel lips.

I begin by asking Mr. Ben about his hobbies, outside of laying the foundation for the American ethos.

I’m taken aback when Mr. Ben starts telling me about his secret career as a rapper. He went by Ben Frank. “It was marvelous,” he recounts. Naturally, I asked him to drop me some beats, but Ben Frank politely declined. “On that note, though,” he continued, “I did spend some time beating eggs as a part-time chef.” It was at that moment that Chef Frank revealed to me that he was actually the mastermind behind the renowned “Frankfurter.”

“Wow …” I mutter under my breath. “Mr. Chef Ben Frankfurter, I have to say I’m sort of speechless. I never knew this side of you.”

“Yeah,” Ben Frank sighs, looking downcast. “Everyone always thinks ‘Mr. Founder this’, ‘Mr. America that’, but what ever happened to ‘Mr. Heart and Soul’? I know what you’re thinking, ‘Benjamin, you’re looking an awful lot like the Tin Man these days, and you know what they said about his heart and soul …’ Well, that I veto! I may present differently now, but I was once a man of emotion, of love, of fervor.” 

“Mmm” I reply, nodding my head ever so subtly, eyebrows slightly raised.

“If you don’t believe me,” he continues “you can ask my wife — she can attest to the passion I —”

“Right, right” I hurriedly cut him off in a sudden state of rushed panic. I’m not interested in hearing about Bench Benjamin’s sex life.

“Please, allow me to finish.” Mr. Benjamin continues in an ever-diplomatic tone.

Oh no.

“I spent some time as a dancer in my career, and my wife — always my No. 1 fan — could tell you about how hard I hit those boogies and whipped those Nae Naes.”

“What?” I think to myself.

“That’s right,” he counters my unspoken doubt. “But I had my academic side, too. I spent my summers doing research in New Haven. Discovering chemicals and such. Ever heard of benzene? All me.”

“In fact,” he continued, “they considered me a scientist so mad that I became Mary Shelley’s muse for ‘Frankenstein’

“Huh,” I reply, wondering how much of the world as I know it is Benjamin Franklin-coded.

“And lastly, in my free time, I enjoyed modeling cars. I was the first to envision the Bentley.”

“This is all extremely impressive. Is there anything else you want to share?”

“I’ll leave you with one piece of Frank advice. During the extended time I spent with my fellow Founding Fathers, I learned that the most important thing is to poke fun at each and every opportunity. Sometimes, that means opting for creativity and imagination over truth and reality.”

“Like … making things up?”

“Precisely — it makes for the greatest fun.” He finishes with a wink, or perhaps the sun simply flashed across his brazen eye at just the right moment to bring an illusion to life.

Great fun indeed … well played, Benjamin.