IT WAS late at night when the phone rang at the White House. Moscow was calling. "Here's our problem," the heavily Russian-accented voice said. "We have no place to put Lenin after we take him out of the tomb."
The White House duty officer responded, "Do you expect me to wake up the president for that?"
"It's his problem as well as ours. Until we find a good resting place for Lenin there will be no peace in the U.S.S.R. We can't leave his body out in Red Square. It could hurt tourism."
"Why don't you bury him in a Russian supermarket? No one will find him there."
"Ideologically, he should be in a wall. But he can no longer be treated like a saint. If it wasn't for his dumb ideas, we could have been another West Germany after World War II."
"I understand what you are going through, but I'm not sure why you're calling us."
"We wondered if you had any room in the Rose Garden."
"You want us to bury Lenin in the Rose Garden?!"
"It would be good for tourism. People could come to see Lenin and then stay to take a tour of the White House."
"We have a rule that no communist leaders may be interred on the White House grounds. It's to mollify the right wing of the Republican Party."
"Well, what about Disneyland?"
"Certainly not. Disneyland wouldn't take him if you sent over his ashes in a Donald Duck sleeping bag."
"We've thought about cremating him. But if the Communist Party was resurrected, and he had already been cremated, it would be hard to put him back in his tomb."
"Have you considered the possibility of keeping Lenin on ice?"
"Yes, but don't suggest Siberia. They don't want Lenin because so many of them were sent there by Lenin's disciples."
"Why not ask the Chinese if they have a place for him in the Great Wall?"
"They're full up. The wall's only 1,500 miles long."
"I'm running out of ideas. Several months ago we would have taken Lenin, with his tomb, for a float in the Rose Bowl Parade. But the interest in him in this country has dropped considerably. I'm not even sure that they would accept him at Forest Lawn Cemetery now that he is no longer a celebrity."
"Well, you haven't helped us. We're going to have to leave him in the tomb until someone comes up with a good idea."
"This may sound slightly offbeat, but why not put him in a space capsule and send him up into orbit? Then he would be gone, but in another way he'd always be with us."
"That's not a bad idea," the Russian said.
"Those who loved him could look up to the sky at him, and those who hated him wouldn't have to. Should he be standing up or lying down?"
LTC "Standing up," the White House aide said, "with his finger pointing in the air. If he were lying down, his finger would be pointing at us."