Katie and I went to see Barak Obama speak in Bloomington last week. I figure that he has about a 30% chance of being elected president right now. If he's elected, she and I can say that we've seen an American president in person.
He was supposed to start speaking at 8:30 p.m. By 6:15 the line snaked around Assembly Hall and out onto the sidewalks.
I was meeting my aunt and cousin. My uncle drove us out there and dropped us off after stopping at Subway to get sandwiches and chips for everyone for dinner.
After finally spotting my aunt and cousin near the front of the line, I tried to be cool about it and get up to them to give them their food, and hopefully join them in line. While I was trying to get nearer, a security attendant told me that no food could be brought into the building. Now what was I going to do? I had no car there, food in hand, relatives near the beginning of the slowly moving line, and a hungry child.
I did what any mother with a hungry child would do: I sneaked the chips in. I put them under my aunt's jacket and put her jacket over my arm. The metal detectors obviously don't catch the metalic-like lining of a bag of baked Lays.
However, when I put my purse on the table to be examined (and they looked through EVERYTHING), I noticed the woman in front of me had a package of graham crackers in her purse and they didn't make her toss them. I then felt better about my secret chips.
So now we're back in line. Linda and Carrie had special pink bracelets. These bracelets belong to the people who are going to sit behind Obama as he speaks. They went off to do the VIP thing while Katie and I joined the masses who were hoping for a seat that wasn't in the nosebleed section.
We traveled with the masses through the maze that is Assembly Hall. When we finally went through the door into the gymnasium, everyone was going down the steep steps to get a seat near the stage. We stayed right at the door-level so that we wouldn't have to go up and down for the infinite number of potty breaks that I knew were coming, and so that Katie could eat her chips without the scrutiny of those around us.
By now it's about 6:40 p.m. Katie kept busy with her crayon roll-up, coloring pictures of flowers. A group called "Straight No Chaser" was performing--loudly. Kate ate a few of her chips, asked for a bathroom break, and chatted with the older couple who eventually came to sit next to us.
In the meantime, the "chosen few" who sit behind Obama began to filter in. They had a "handler" who was staging EVERYTHING! He passed out the "homemade" signs that you see behind Obama at every rally. They practiced holding up their signs and cheering. He sent them in groups to go to the bathroom. More practice.
Kate pointed out a group a few rows in front of us who came in with sodas, water, and chips. We went on a bathroom break (again!) and saw where the concessions were being sold. I paid $3 for a Sprite! The concessioneer took the cap off the bottle and I thought it was nice that he was being polite and opening it for me. Then he tossed the cap into the trash. I asked him why we didn't get to keep the cap. (I could just see this soda being spilled all over the folks in front of us!) He said that the Secret Service didn't allow the caps because "the caps could be used to make a projectile and separate from the bottle...bombs....projectiles....Secret Service....blah, blah, blah." I didn't think I should argue with the Secret Service.
At 8:00 someone came in and led the Pledge of Allegience. FINALLY! Something was happening!
I was wrong.
Another bathroom break.
We listened for about 10 minutes to Obama working the crowd. It was all about how much he's like us. He was speaking at Assembly Hall, home of the past NCAA Champion Indiana Hoosiers, the center of basketball heartland, and starts talking about how when he's already told his people that when he's elected, he's having the bowling alley taken out of the White House and is putting in a basketball court. Hysteria erupted. It was all in the name of working the crowd.
10:00 came and went before it was over. It was WAY past Katie's bedtime and she was more than tired. Now we had to find Linda and Carrie in the mass exodus. Cell phones come in handy at times like this!
It was 11:00 before we got back to Dan and Linda's. Katie was tired, hungry, and grumpy--and I didn't blame her one bit.
She slept very well that night.
In retrospect, I can see how Obama could sway people to believing whatever he says. He didn't get this far without being persuasive. A lot of things make sense on the surface, but I'm not so sure about the long run. Maybe I'll blog more about that later. I'm not much of a political person. I wanted to see if he addressed the Jeremiah Wright issue or his Muslim background. If he did, I was with my daughter and missed it--and she's much more important.