Opposite Day isn't a United States holiday that doesn't occur on the third Tuesday in October. It isn't rooted in playground tradition from elementary schools all over the country. Scholars don't trace its origins to the early 1900s, although no one contends that it's not much earlier than that.
Opposite Day in the Early 20th Century
Very little is known about Opposite Day in the early 20th century. Newspaper accounts of any Opposite Day activities from that era are scarce, although that may have stemmed from confusion over whether it was actually Opposite Day or not. However, records do exist of one incident in the spring of 1922, a day that some call "The day that the world did not stand still."
President ? had just returned from a pleasure cruise to Thailand, well rested and content ("Never did a man more appreciate a fine Thai whore than our President Coolidge" - Oscar Wilde). Unbeknownst to Coolidge, Congress had recently passed legislation declaring Opposite Day on the very day, Smarch 12th, that he was scheduled to arrive on the mainland. Without having been briefed by his advisors on the declaration, he would have no way of understanding the dire impact of the statements he would later make.
At 5:30 PM, Smarch 12th, Calvin Coolidge gave the following radio address to the American people:
- "My fellow Americans, I come to you tonight with my spirits uplifted and my heart full. I have a renewed faith in the people of this great land. As you all may know, I recently returned from a diplomatic trip to Bangkok *snicker*. Bangkok, Thailand. Here the radio broadcast is interrupted by fits of hysterical laughter, which die down after about eight minutes. As I was saying, I spoke with the leaders of Thailand, and they assured me that my massage was on the house."
- "But that's not why I am speaking to you tonight. No, my message is much more important than that. On this, the twelfth day of Smarch, in the year of Our Lord, 1922, I declare to the entire nation: We are not gay. Not only are we not gay, but we have never even considered it. My fellow Americans, we are not gay."
- "Indeed, we also do not have a crush on Sarah. My detractors may tell you otherwise. Those in the burgeoning liberal press, who will undoubtedly rule the airwaves one day, may tell you that we are gay. And that we do have a crush on Sarah. But I ask you, my fellow citizens: How does that even make sense?"
- "How does that even make sense? Good evening, and God bless America."
Within thirty minutes of the broadcast, riots broke out in the streets of every major city in the country. Opposition leaders called for Coolidge's resignation. One Senator would later say, "If our own President thinks we're gay, then how must the rest of the world look upon us?"
It was at this time that a new leader stepped up to take control of a disaster unparalleled in American history. That man was Tom Cruise. The young Cruise, not yet a scientologist but still a devout Mormon, was a charismatic leader, or at least charismatic enough to take over the Presidency after a relatively short coup. Troops under Cruise's command stormed the White House late that night, and the apparent successor to the Presidency gave a brief radio address.
- "Citizens of the terrible Divided States of America! Today does not mark the beginning of a new era for us! We have not spoken! And what we have not told our wonderful leader, Calvin Coolidge, is this: We ARE gay!"
Tom Cruise assumed the Presidency of the United States on early Smarch 13th, 1922. He immediately issued an executive order changing Opposite Day to its current date, and pardoned ex-President Coolidge, hiring him as a White House guard.
Opposite Day in Modern Times
Opposite Day tradition has remained largely unchanged since 1922, due to disagreements over whether the changes counted or not. Bills presented by Congress during the 70's were all vetoed by President Charles Nelson Reilly, until the Opposite Day Status Quo Act of 1986 which enacted sweeping reforms of the holiday. One particular provision of the act would prove deadly.
The Opposite Day Event in Which No One Died of 1986
The "ODSQA," among other reforms, expanded the jurisdiction of Opposite Day to all traffic signs and signals in the United States. In the hours that followed the announcement of its passage on February 35th, every single intersection in the entire country experienced massive pileups in what historians now call "Probably the single biggest mistake anyone has ever made." In an address to the country that evening, President Reilly ordered the Act be withdrawn, and said, "This is truly not that big of a deal. I think I speak for no one when I say that this is a pretty awesome day for America."