Living in the Chicago area in the post-Obama president-elect era is a little thrilling, I will admit, as it seems that everyone I talk to is one person removed from him or knows the man personally. Maybe it's a testament to how involved the Obamas really have been in the community or there's some wishful thinking going on or, maybe again, it's really that Chicago, despite it's massiveness, is still a pretty small town at heart. Think I'm exaggerating? Think again.
The woman who cuts my hair once sneezed and the next thing she knew, Barack Obama walked over and handed her a tissue. He was really cool about the whole thing, and it wasn't the scratchy kind of tissue either.
My neighbor met Barack Obama while they were both members of a Civil War reenactment group. Contrary to rumor, my neighbor was not part of an underground cell of enthusiasts who took things a little too far but if he was, he still makes no apologies for it. His book will be out in Spring 2009.
When I was selling peanuts at the Cubs game the summer before my sophomore year in college, Barack Obama bought three bags, reconsidered it, and returned one. He impressed me with his candor and willingness to dialog his decision through with me. He was very transparent about his process.
The guy who restocks dressings at the Whole Foods salad bar on North Avenue knows Barack Obama from this one time he pointed out the location of the restroom to him, and it was clear that he was not a dick despite what the guy in produce with all those tattoos said, who didn't even talk to him and is an anarchist or something.
My mother met Barack Obama when she hired him to babysit me as a child; he had a huge 'fro back then but she wasn't scared. She had watched The Jefferson’s in the past.
One of the other mothers at my son's school knows Barack Obama from interning together during the summer before he met Michelle. They dated briefly and it ended badly. She drove by his house one night to see if he was home - she admits she was a little unhinged - and when she drove past, he happened to be getting out of his car. They had direct eye contact and she was mortified. That was the last time she saw him face-to-face, but she still voted for him even though she was embarrassed somehow.
The barista at Barack Obama's favorite coffeeshop in Hyde Park says that for some reason, she has not been working when he's stopped in, but she has served a woman rumored to be Michelle Obama's pedicurist, and she apparently thinks she's hot shit or something and never, ever gets off her damn cell phone.
My son met Barack Obama when he was driving a bumper car at Kiddieland over the summer and the president-elect drove right by him, smiled, and shook his hand. My son thought the smiling man might have candy, so he was disappointed to drive away empty-handed.
Elizabeth Hasselbeck does not live in Chicago, but she did meet Barack Obama when he was on her television show and she questioned his character. Still does.
This guy who knows my friend through her neighbor's cousin met Barack Obama when they happened to be waiting at the DMV together, and he says that he took an astonishingly good driver's license photo. It looked like something created by God's personal airbrush.
My mail carrier met Barack Obama when their daughters took ballet together two years ago. He wasn't one of those obnoxious parents but he did accidentally take her seat at the recital when she got up to get some water. He didn't do it on purpose so she doesn't hold it against him, but she does hold it against her husband for not telling him that the seat was taken. It was just another example of his wimpishness.
My ex-boyfriend catered some sort of dinner he was speaking at a few years back at the Art Institute, and after he went back in the cooler to smoke a bowl with Raul, there was some kind of Powerpoint going on that was really trippy - he can't remember what it was about, something with cannonballs, he thinks - and he couldn't stop laughing. No one seemed to notice, thankfully, but, now that he thinks of it, he didn't get any new jobs from the company.
There is also the guy who drives the North Avenue bus, those three security guards at City Hall, my cousin in LaGrange, the woman in the really cool red coat deciding whether or not to buy arugula, my friend (the former Sikh), the guy who fixed my cable modem, Liz, and it’s rumored that tried to clean my windows when I was stopped at a red light (I said “no!” like twenty times) might know someone who knows him.
This is all just off the top of my head, too.