Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My First Inaugural

No, I'm not in DC today braving the cold and the crowds. I'm here at home, where I can DVR the processions, skip ahead to the actual swearing-in and speech at my leisure, and stay warm all day. That's fine with me. I've actually attended an inauguration before, and while it was interesting, once was enough for this lifetime.

A friend in college had a father who was some sort of lawyer who did something or other for the Republican party. I don't know if he donated, fundraised, or defended them, but at any rate he had some sort of pull. She had tickets to Reagan's second inaugural, it was Winter Term and I was sitting around working on my honors project, so with nothing better to do I went up to DC to attend with her and another college friend.

Whatever her father did left us with pretty good "seats" for the swearing-in, but because it was freezing the outdoor events were moved indoors and the ceremony took place in the Capitol rotunda. Our good "seats" were in a rented space with free food and drinks and monitors to watch the proceedings. That was fine with me. It really was freezing. After about 15 minutes milling about with the others gathered in the banquet hall, it became clear that I was surrounded by....people who had voted for Reagan. In November, 1984 I cast the first ballot of my life, for Mondale/Ferraro. Yes, I was one of the five Pennsylvanians who voted Democratic that year. "If not us, who? If not now, when?" blah, blah, blah. The neatly dressed crowed went wild. I had another drink. He kept talking about freezing government spending so that everyone becomes more responsible or some other such nonsense. I kept drinking and kept my mouth shut.

After the open bar closed it was time to go back to Alexandria, take a long nap, and get ready for the ball. That's right, I even got to attend an inaugural ball. My friend's parents were attending one of the big balls, where Reagan himself would appear for a few minutes, but we had tickets to one of the lesser state balls, probably Virginia's since that's where her father lived. The ball had some name, but I don't remember it. Here's what you do at an inaugural ball when you're 21 years old and have nothing at stake: you dance to Motown and get incredibly drunk. Andrew Jackson's celebration featured a mob of his "common" supporters storming the White House for free punch. The Republican equivalent of this is young women in pearls and young men who look like they should be in the military, but are not, drinking up everything at the open bar. When the ball is over you and your friends and some random young legislative aides head down to Georgetown and drink some more. When the bars close you take a cab home and pass out in your dress.

I'll be just fine on my couch today, and attending a meeting rather than a ball tonight. I won't miss the pearls or the legislative aides. Feeling part of history is so much easier when you're sober.


tunsie said...

this country turned into a consumer instead of a producer.the other auto makers make cars CHEAPER then us.I think they do this because they don't pay thier line workers 73 dollars an hour.people want 2 work less and get more pay.I have never seen anything like it.friday and saturday nite r fair game 4 work people.Those nites r not sacred 2 a bar room people,unless u work in one.most jobs r retail.well if people r not working where r they going 2 get the money 2 go out 2 buy the overpriced stuff in the stores.In yhe past 2 years i have met so many professional everthing.these peple r experts in everything[theier personal life is in ruin]but u name it they r experts.after a few drinks i think they can solve the problems of the world.wake up people.tunsie.tunsie.tunsie

beths said...

My daughter rode a bus from NYC to DC today but watched indoors at a house party. (She's a wimp when it comes to cold, I know that.) I think if I'd taken the trouble to travel to DC I'd want to be outside with the great unwashed even if I couldn't see a darned thing. Then I'd have stories about the people I rubbed elbows with. She's with her buds (Ethiopians from a family of diplomats), so I'm sure she's having fun her way at 24. I felt a weight lift as the Bush helicopter flew away. Too bad the poem was boring.

Elucidator said...

My favorite moment was probably the helicopter flying away into the dark clouds (undoubtedly taking those clouds along with it), but it shares a close second with Laura literally almost running up the steps, hurriedly ducking through the door. I could almost hear her imploring, "George, come on already, please, stop waving and let this be over."

Do you think Cheney thought that maybe if he was disabled the Inauguration would be canceled and he could stick around to spend another day picking out people to be pardoned?

J. SPIKE ROGAN said...

God I laughed like Jackie the Joke man from the Old FM Howard Stern show.

It was more a cackle really. My eyes watered. I've never been so relived.

I'll never forget W's last wave. May have passed Nixon's farewell in the American memory.

Darth Cheney's exit was fitting. Like in Return of the Jedi Our evil dark jedi is crippled and weak at the end. But Unlike Vader, Cheney will NEVER come back to the good side.

This was before he turned to the sith lord.


S said...

I have to admit that this is the first time I haven't felt like an international joke as an American citizen in 8 years. Obama's taste in music was incredible, as was his decision to include the arts to such a great extent in the ceremony...but Aretha's hat was just plain funny. She should have consulted with Michelle before wearing it.

J. SPIKE ROGAN said...

i think the hat was to go with her figure to be honest.

Otherwise she would look like a pin-head on TV.

Just my guess knowing what I know about TV.

I wonder if he will keep the Bush carpet in the oval office.

Most mocked it. I kinda think Laura Bush picked a nice design, myself.

Then again I'm a straight man.

I would hang a lifesize portrait of the Phillie Phanatic in my living room as well.