"I was afraid my hair was — was going to go up," George W. Bush tells PEOPLE

By Lindsay Kimble and Sandra Sobieraj Westfall
March 02, 2017 02:18 PM
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Rick Wilking/Reuters

True life: I’m a meme.

Former President George W. Bush is explaining the backstory behind his battle with a rain poncho at the 2017 presidential inauguration – a hilarious moment that was caught on camera and quickly went viral.

“First of all, we were thrilled to be there. It’s a beautiful ceremony, it really is. It’s a peaceful transfer of power, which is very reassuring,” Bush tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “The wind started kicking up and I was afraid my hair was — was going to go up.”

He adds, “But anyways, try to put that baby on.”

RELATED VIDEO: Click HERE to watch People Features: George W. Bush, Portraits of Courage

Bush – who just released his first art book and new exhibit, Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors, a collection of his paintings of post-9/11 war veterans – says it was daughter Jenna Bush Hager who alerted him to his new Internet cred.

For much more of our interview with Laura and George W. Bush, including exclusive at-home photos, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.

RELATED VIDEO: Ellen Confronts Former President George W. Bush About His Poncho Problem

“We get home and [Jenna said], ‘You’ve gone viral, dad!’ ” the 70-year-old reveals. “I’m trying to figure out what all that meant. Sounds kind of unattractive that I went viral, it was … the classic was Cheney was behind me trying to put it on.”

Wife Laura Bush notes that she was A-okay braving the weather on Jan. 20 without a poncho: “I didn’t have one, I didn’t care if my hair got wet.”