My parents Tivo-ed absolutely every piece of Inauguration week coverage they could find. HBO’s coverage of the concert, CNN’s coverage of the Inauguration ceremony, MSNBC’s coverage of the parade, and of course FOX News’ coverage of small babies crying and the sky opening up to welcome the impending apocalypse. Well guess what? Here’s some Brooklyn Skeptic inauguration coverage!!!
So I got a ticket to the inauguration. A ticket in the purple section. I hadn’t gotten my hopes up too much, but my sister, who worked in the election field office in New York as well as on the Inaugural team in DC, totally came through. And I was insanely excited. Here I was, getting the chance to participate in an historic event, the kind that I would be able to tell my friend’s grandkids about (I’m going to die alone). My imagination went wild. A purple ticket! I pictured myself walking up to the Capitol building, handing them my purple ticket, and then nestling snugly in between Dianne Feinstein and Michelle Obama. I pictured myself doing Madlibs with Sasha and Malia when we got bored during the ceremony (“Albert Einstein is most famous for his theory of farts” – oh Malia, you’re hysterical!). And after Obama gave his speech, I pictured myself walking up to him and saying “I get you, man,” and him responding “I get you too, plainclothesman. You’re the coolest guy I’ve ever met in my life. Let’s totally go water-skiing.” It was perfect. But it didn’t exactly go down like that.
Because eighty bajillion other people decided to come too.
So we got to the purple section, and it was asses to elbows in there. My dreams of being the Obamas best pal and potential Secretary of Awesome immediately flew out the window. With probably a million people between me and the (then) president-elect, I was beginning to wonder if he would even be able to pick me out of the crowd to wave hi and make silly facial gestures when they announced Joe Lieberman! So we stood there for several hours. Yes, it was cold. Yes, our feet got tired. Yes, when several million people gather in one place, a good percentage of them are really annoying, no matter their political affiliation. They announced Bush and people booed. Some obnoxious people chose between the two songs on their repertoire, deciding that “na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye” song was slightly more appropriate to sing in this situation than Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline. More time went by. And finally, Joe and Barack were sworn in. And the world record was set for most people holding cameras blindly over their heads while saying “I can’t really see anything. Can you?”
And then came Obama’s speech. You’ve all heard it or watched it already, so I won’t recreate it here. Suffice it to say, Obama could’ve recited the Declaration of Independence backwards and in Portugese while taming a griffin, and it still wouldn’t have lived up to everyone’s expectations. It was an eloquent and poignant speech delivered by a man who is no doubt ready to lead this country and the faces of the crowd around me did nothing but represent that. Pundits may have gone on television and said that it was average, but at the time, it didn’t seem like anyone thought it was anything short of spectacular.
After Obama’s part in the ceremony was over, however, people just left. They awkwardly filed out of the designated standing area, leaving poet Elizabeth Alexander to speak with a parting crowd. It’s interesting that Kennedy’s inauguration is synonymous with Robert Frost and Clinton’s inauguration with Maya Angelou, whereas Obama’s, for me, will always be synonymous with people walking out of the Capitol saying things like “want to get something to eat?” and “is it bad that I can’t feel my ear lobes?” I guess the only thing I associate the Bush Inauguration with is Ricky Martin, and apparently even he turned his back on Bush.
We left towards the very end, as the United States Navy Band played the National Anthem. As we walked down the street outside of our gated area, Bush’s helicopter flew overhead as he made his way to Andrews Air Force Base, where he would then head home to Texas. I slowly made my way home too. The apartment felt quiet, and empty. I almost began to yearn for millions of annoying spectators to surround me once again. I smiled to myself, and sat down. The day was over. It had all gone by so fast. It felt almost like it had all been a dream.
But then, the phone rang.
“Hello?” I said. There was a brief silence. Finally a voice that I knew all too well rang back through the phone. “You didn’t think I’d forgotten about you, did you?” it said. “Now get your butt over to Air Force Fun, we’ve got some water-skiing to do.”
I’ll never forget it. Thanks Obama.