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Barack My World

Why is it so embarrassing to admit that we know someone who knows someone, but it is so often the case? I had the privilege (or fortune, some may say) to attend this nameless political event back in 2004 because my good friend’s grandma’s sister (phew!) works for the town of Rosemont. That being the case, Rosemont, IL is a ‘connected’ town. I did not know what to expect, but I dressed accordingly, and I was excited.
Had someone closely observed my face that day, he would have thought that Eddie Vedder or some other rock star of choice was coming to town. But, this was our senator, the beloved Senator of Illinois. At this time, though many people knew of him, he was not the supernova that he is today. Yet, I knew what was to come, because I heard it in his voice whenever he spoke on television. This was someone the people would want to know, I thought. As he waved and smiled at people who probably did not even exist, he made his way across the floor to prepare for his speech later that evening. I felt fluttery in my stomach, and felt my face turn pink (which is not hard to imagine, as I am quite pale in skin tone). It is not as though I think Barack Obama is hot, per se, but more like how junior high girls get when they fancy their math teacher. He is smart and authoritative, and I totally dig it.
While he did not have a huge entourage, he slyly entered the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center unannounced. Had I been holding a drink in my hand like my inebriated co-attendees, perhaps the glass would have been shaking, or even dropped on the floor. I must admit, meeting ‘celebrities’ is something with which I do not have much practice. In fact, I do not think it would make a difference.
After circling appetizer trays that had been left out for hours, and finally heading to the bar for my first drink of the evening (a cosmopolitan), the speeches began. While Barack was not the only speaker of the evening, I could probably conclude without much hesitation that he was definitely the most famous, and not surprisingly, the most interesting.
The crowd had been busy doing other things before, mostly mindless schmoozing, but when he spoke they appeared to hang on his every word. He, of course, spoke of his parents: his father growing up in Kenya, and his mother, in Iowa. He spoke of having great values of hard work and dedication instilled in him from a young age. He lamented about hardships of working men and women in this country, and he beamed about his wife and children. I was one of many who engaged in raucous applause after key points in his speech, and I cannot speak for anyone else in that room, but I was thinking two things the entire time: 1. “Please run for President, and restore this country to order,” and 2. “Please do not get caught in a hotel room with a hooker or something of that nature.”
When he was finished, people gathered around him, much like hyenas in the desert surrounding a fresh carcass. But my best friend, Angela, had a different agenda for capturing the attention of this future high-profile man. We stood inconspicuously in the hallway of the Convention Center for about twenty minutes, and Angela, feeling a bit tipsy from the free alcohol, was instilled with some newfound courage. I had wanted to leave, sure that we had missed an opportunity in this empty hallway to shake hands with Senator Obama, but as we turned around, there he was, surrounded by burly men in suits, as many politicians tend to be.
Not wanting to sound like a political groupie, I was preparing to choose my words very carefully, and just as I was about to say, “Excellent speech,” or something equally clever, Angela pulled the best move I had seen from my friends in awhile. She tactfully stepped in front of the burliest of the men, outstretched her hand, and said, “It is very nice to meet you, Senator Obama.” Maintaining his composure, not missing a beat, and unfazed by her movement, he looked her straight in the eye, wiped his forehead with a handkerchief in one hand, extended the other hand, and firmly responded, “It’s a pleasure to meet YOU.”
I warmed up to Rosemont that day, and the idea of being ‘connected’. I hope Angela is around to greet President Obama.

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