Leigh attends a Democratic Watch Party, where a terrible time ensues
I have returned from my county’s Democratic Watch Party. I have been touched by strangers. I had a terrible time. And I did it all for you, dear NSFWCORP.
When I arrived at the venue, a beautiful multi-level bar nestled in the center of downtown Asheville, I was instantly hit with a wave of cologne and perfume as mean as ice picks in my temples. (Sure enough, in twenty minutes, I will have a migraine and want to harm things). People were pouring into the upper level of the venue, shuffling up against each other to reach the overpriced bar, the massive cheese platter, and the vegetable sticks. The first person I bump into is wearing a “Lord Voldemort Can’t Stop Barack” tee shirt and is shrieking about his pending trip to get his wine refilled. A man with frightenly large blonde dreds sauntered by, a sun-bleached American flag stuck into a grotesquely thick slab of hair near his crown. A small little man stopped the voluptuous woman in front of me to comment on her beautiful lips and harshly ask if she remembered him. (She did. They went to the Unitarian Universalist church together years ago.) For the record, she was, in fact, incredibly striking and he was incredibly creepy. The woman seemed really uncomfortable so I awkwardly shoved between them as if I were in a hurry, briefly blocking his oppressive attempts to get her to fawn over him. I succeeded in annoying him. I consider that a win.
From there, I slipped through the thick crowd of incredibly tall well-dressed lawyers, patchouli-scented hippies, svelte hipsters in blazers, and Obama-swag clad volunteers towards the large TV screen showing the ABC coverage of the election. The mass of people was sweaty and nervous. Cute kids scampered through adult legs. The tension in the room was palpable and awful. Many of the democratic contenders had just lost. And yet, there was a thick, desperate air of panicked hope that clung to the election watch party participants. At first, it was easy to dismiss the hope as false, but as I surveyed the room, a heartbreaking revelation crept up under my well-honed armor of cynicism. I realized that the hope in this room was real.
The people I was standing amongst really believed in the president. In their hearts, they believed that what and who he is reflected not only their values, but their dreams. And with their blatant, eager hope came a pleading, nervous fear. It was so innocent, so pure. And it terrified me. In that instant, I peered into a sort of credulity that deeply believed in the process, the president, and this political system. And it was so heartfelt. I knew, in that instant, I could not be in that room if Obama lost the election. That witnessing such broken dreams would be unbearably cruel. Whispers of defeat were not even circulating, lest the pleading hopes of the room face the reality that their shining knight will fall before dawn.
The hope and perfume were choking me out.
I escaped the upper loft full of blind promise and closely-packed strangers to the downstairs bar area. With enough personal space to breathe without bumping another person, I relaxed my shoulders a bit and began to stare at the red and blue maps of CNN. I spoke to a nice kid who’d been volunteering for the local Dems. He sipped his chardonnay and sighed every time the local election results slid across the bottom of the TV screen. He couldn’t hide his disappointment any more than I could face going back up into the crowded reception hall of the watch party. We talked about early voting and watched states blink red. He tried to explain statistics to me. I didn’t have the heart to do anything but act dumb.
At this point, my mother (who has appeared for the festivities) is camped out at the bar ordering wine and talking to strangers. I abandon my post in front of the cable news shows and wander over to the bar. It seems my mother has done the impossible. She has found the only two non-democrats in the entire fucking bar. And they are wasted.
These two gentlemen are tourists that have stumbled into this bar because they needed somewhere to drink after tapas. Or so they tell me. When I inform them of the Democratic watch party they have inadvertently crashed, they giggle wildly. Then yell angrily. Then giggle some more.
The first man is a handsome conservative who tells me he wanted to vote for Herman Cain. His logic? “I didn’t vote for Obama but I’m glad he won because it got us over that whole [makes hump motion] … thing.” Oh, the black thing. But now he is “angry because people only vote for him because of.. that thing.” Uh huh, this isn’t racist at all. “I wanted Herman Cain to run because then, you know, even playing field.” I snort and ask him if he was really advocating for two black men to run because no one could possibly weigh the merits of a candidate on anything other than race, were more than one ethnicity involved. He assures me that he can differentiate between people “no matter who is black or whatever” but that “people are going to vote for Obama because he is... you know... and that’s wrong.” The term racist piece of shit springs to mind.
The second man is a sweaty, blond fellow who is gripping the bar and leaning perilously close to my breasts. Like, leaning with his hands. Towards my breasts. I’m considering my options if he grabs me. He’s breathing stale wine and Spanish food all over me and then he starts shrieking about Gary Johnson. Jesus christ, I’ve found a Libertarian. He is slobbering all over himself, trying to explain the most pedantic college freshman version of libertarianism I’ve ever heard. It doesn’t even make sense, it’s just the rantings of someone who found out I was covering politics this evening and is doing everything he can to sound savvy and unique. He’s wildly grunting about big government and bad government and what not. I asked him a few snarky questions about infrastructure and public school and I watch in real time as he decides to lie to me about his wife homeschooling his kids. It was that kind of a drunk lie that crawls across one’s face in steps, so clearly obvious to any observer, so but so “cleverly disguised” by the drunk person. I kept light-heartedly giving him shit about being the oldest fucking Libertarian ever, he kept trying to get into my pants. After I repeatedly refused his offer of a beer, he slid off the bar and grabbed me, forcibly hugging me with all of his sweaty, drunk might. As he pressed himself firmly against my body, murmuring that it was better than that drink he’d offered, I silently cursed every fucking thing that led me to that bar on this night.