Monday, March 24, 2008

I Can Now Die Happy...and Politically Well-Connected.

I am the luckiest Obama super fan ever. Last Wednesday, I experienced every liberal's wet dream...meeting, speaking with, and yes even TOUCHING the man himself. Barack was in my hometown of Charlotte for the day giving a public stump speech which I could not attend. Obviously I was crushed but then came the opportunity of a lifetime: I was invited to a private dinner being given for him by Bob Perkowitz (president and founder of ecoAmerica, an environmental consumer research and marketing firm). Don't ask me how I got invited to this very hush, hush affair; my well-crafted skills at social climbing are not something that can be taught. Actually, I just happen to lucky enough to have gone to high school with Barack's right hand man, Mr. Reggie know, the guy you always see in the corner of pictures behind Barack in the newspaper? Yup, that's him.

So my friend and I show up to the event, being held at Perkowitz's private residence in a very large and maybe not so eco-friendly home in an upper-crust neighborhood of the city. We valet the car, check in and get our personalized name tags (I kept mine like a Guns 'n Roses fan would keep the water bottle Axl threw at her from the stage). Then a truly exciting political moment: Getting the shakedown from authentic Secret Service agents. I never knew how exciting it could be to get frisked by two dudes in matching crew neck sweaters.

Finally, we went inside and I realized just how lucky I was. Your average person there was 54 and probably made more in one banking quarter than I will over the next twenty years. And yet there I was. They all looked at me like they assumed I was the daughter of someone important or a perhaps a member of the campaign team. I guess what shocked me was the realization that all of these people were die-hard Obama supporters. How could that be? They looked so...Republican. I quickly decided to go off on my own to raise the chances of getting a good spot in the living room where Obama was going to be making his speech. While waiters skirted around with champagne and glasses of wine, Obama quietly came into the room and gave his speech (details of the specifics to follow).

As the speech was winding down, Reggie asked if I would like to meet "Mr. Obama". Oh no thanks I said, I'd rather not. Are you kidding me? I was told to wait outside by the door where his car would be waiting for him after the speech. I figured everyone got to meet him, there were only about 100 people at the event and I just assumed everyone would go to shake his hand quickly. I heard the speech end and a roar of applause and five minutes later he was being walked out of the house by his secret service detail, not doing a line of handshakes. Once outside, he stopped and looked at Reggie and said "Oh so this is your crew from high school Reggie?" My mind is basically blank except for one thing I keep repeating to myself over and over: Don't say any cuss words. Instead of coming up with some brilliant policy analysis or a witty joke about Hillary's PAC sponsored campaign, all I can think about is not using a four letter word in front of the next President of the United States. Fuck.

He approaches me and I'm not even kind of kidding, he INTRODUCES himself to me. In the next five minutes we talk about what I'm doing, what college I went to, my travels abroad in Nepal and Southeast Asia (SE Asia is one of his favorite areas in the world he says), and proceeds to tell me that I look eighteen years old (uhh, thanks?). He then thanks us for coming and tells us how much hope we give him to see young voters being politically active. Swoon. I give Barack hope. I am the reason Barack wakes up every morning. Barack hearts Hayley.

A special thanks to Kelly Futrelle and Reggie Love for making this meeting of the minds possible!

...More details on the speech to come!

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