The Best of Andy Rooney

It doesn't make much sense but we've named a lot of the most important buildings around the world after their shape or appearance. Calling something "white" doesn't mean much, but add the word "house" and you've got what may be the most important building in the world: the White House.

A lot of other famous buildings are named for something else. One important building is known not for its color, but its shape: the Pentagon.

Of "pentagon," my dictionary says, "a polygon having five sides." "Pentagon" might not sound all that ominous, but at least the building wasn't another shape and had to be known as the "Round" or the "Square."

I don't think the Kremlin in Moscow was named after its unusual shape, but it is a well-known name around the world. It is a complex of buildings that include palaces, cathedrals and the residence of the president of Russia. I would imagine the president has to be driven around the complex because of its size.

The White House has a common name that's famous and it has an uncommon number of rooms. There are 132 rooms in the six-story White House: 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces and 147 windows.

President Obama has a personal attendant who takes care of his clothes, so he doesn't have to remember where he put things like a pair of pants. He has someone who remembers for him. I should think he'd lose stuff in a pocket once in awhile.

It must be tough getting dressed the first week you're out of office for an ex-president who has to find his own clothes in his own closet and his own underwear in his dresser drawer at home. Someone does those things for you when you're president. (I've never been president, but I've heard that's what happens.)

I've been in the White House twice and it didn't seem that big, but of course I wasn't allowed to wander around. I'd love to have seen the cellar, but you go where you're taken. I didn't see all of it and I'll bet there are rooms in the White House even the president has never been in. My house is big and it has 11 rooms, three of which are bathrooms. I don't know why a president would want a house that big. No one wants a house they can get lost in. At least the president doesn't have to cut the grass or help Michelle with her vegetable garden if he doesn't want to.

I hate cutting grass, even though I have a mower I sit on now. I suppose there are days when the president would trade places with me -- cutting the grass instead of deciding what to do about the Middle East. I don't think he ever mows the grass, but I wonder if he ever goes into the White House kitchen and gets something to eat out of the refrigerator? I often do at home -- and I'll bet he does, too.

It's strange how little we really know about the president's day-to-day life. He seems like a really normal guy and I hope he's as normal as he seems. A president should be smarter than the rest of us but normal, too. That's a hard combination. Harry Truman was more normal than smart, but Franklin Roosevelt was smarter than normal. I don't have many claims to fame, but I shook hands with Roosevelt once. In 1945 I went to the White House as a reporter for the U.S. armed forces newspaper, Stars and Stripes, and got to shake hands with him. He had a strong grip and I suppose presidents who shake several hundred hands a week get strong hands. I don't remember what he said - if he said anything - but I remember his grip.

Shaking hands is something any president does a lot of. I don't think anyone keeps track but if a president shakes a hundred hands a day -- which I'll bet he does most days -- he'd shake 36,500 hands a year. Each of them would remember the shake but the president wouldn't remember more than a few of them. So, the next time I'm invited to the White House, I hope to shake the president's hand in one of the 132 rooms.

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