My high school buddy Steve Lilley was in town, and could only get together Tuesday evening, so he drove up from the South Bay to Oakland, and we watched the election results on the big screen at the Parkway Theater. We got our food, a sandwich for Steve and nachos for me, which I shared because his sandwich was slow to arrive, and we got some drinks, though nothing with alcohol for Steve who would still have to drive back to the South Bay after, and settled in to enjoy the returns.
I had never been with a group of strangers on Election Night before, and it was an amazing experience. I never felt so personally invested in an election before, since I've sent money to the Obama campaign and worked the phones for him as well, including on election day itself.
If there were any McCain supporters at the Parkway, they were vewy, vewy quiet. Early on, people booed any state McCain won and cheered lustily when Obama won a state, When Obama took Pennsylvania, the cheer was loud and long and the amount of booing for a state that was expected to go for McCain diminished quite a bit. (McCain wins Alabama? Who the fuck cares?) This is not to say the crowd was non-partisan. When Tom DeLay was asked for his opinion, the crowd booed the future jailbird like he was some WWE villain, only without the bulging pecs.
A Parkway employee wanted to know if we want to turn over to Comedy Central at 8 pm. The crowd knew the score. Ah, hellz no! It was obvious that when the West Coast came in, it was going to be over. Minutes after the polls closed, California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii were projected for Obama, he crossed 270 and the crowd went nuts.
I've been to NFL playoff games. I saw Brazil play Cameroon at Stanford in the World Cup.
The mob at the Parkway was much, much smaller than those crowds, but they went way more NUTS!
People were screaming and yelling and giving the high tens and kissing and crying for an incredible amount of time. The screen was showing celebrations from around the country. At Spelman College, the camera nosed in on a young woman on her knees on the ground, her face hidden her hands, obviously crying tears of joy. Tears started welling in my eyes. Even over the din of the crowd in Oakland and the cheering in Atlanta through the speakers, I could make out the brilliant bass line of Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered". Then I really started crying.
I may be happy on more election nights in the future, but I'm sure I'll never forget November 4, 2008. I want to thank my old buddy Steve for calling me and getting me out of the house this evening. Blogging is a lot of fun, but it's nothing like being in a crowd on a night to remember.