You know those people who light up the room when they walk in? The ones whose smiles seem to well up from their bellies and whose skins glow with conviviality? The ones who look really glad to meet you, and really enjoy themselves wherever they go?
Well, I’m not one of them. I tend to lighten the mood very much the way a ton of bricks might, and spread about as much joy as a damp sweater. “How are you?” people will ask, and that’ll set me off: I’ll go ahead and tell them how I am, segueing smoothly into how the whole wretched world seems to be. If you’re looking to add fun and games to your soiree, I’m not the first person to call. If, on the other hand, you’re looking to shore up your quota of depressive, broody complainers, my number is—ah, why bother.
And yet, here I am on this Wednesday afternoon, so happy that I haven’t eaten anything all day. I can’t stop smiling. I pushed my hair back just now and I swear I brushed against a halo of tiny birds, hearts, harps, flowers, music notes and smiley faces circling my head. Instead of inducing a powerful gag reflex, it’s making me hum moonily to myself.
It’s because, at long last, we have an outrageously good-looking man leading the Free World. When people talk about JFK being handsome, they’re just being polite. They mean, ‘for a politician’. Barack Obama, on the other hand, is a stunner any way you cut it. He’s young, athletic, and has that sexy thing going where his cheeks blow out gently when he pronounces his bs and ps.
Just kidding (though it doesn’t hurt that he’s gorgeous). My happiness is really because, as my sister said from a bar in Shanghai where she watched Obama get elected and give his victory speech, “He made a pain in my heart, that I didn’t even know was there, go away.” My sister is given to weeping with relief at other equally uncertain outcomes, such as daily sunrise, but I had to agree. The man is inspirational, in addition to be being sharp as a razor and emotionally rock-solid (and hot).
Why? Pitch-perfect psychology. He sticks to the issue, never takes his eye off the ball, acknowledges the need to build consensus instead of trying to tear down the other chap, and could therefore be the best conflict-resolver we’ve seen in a very long time. He’s the prettiest possible embodiment of the best possible expression of globalisation: biracial, shaped by multiple ethnicities, as outward as he is inward looking, well-travelled, well-informed, tech-savvy, acutely aware of the world’s interdependence, and seemingly focused on bettering the world rather than on self-aggrandisement. What’s not to slavishly worship?
I swear I heard one of the CNN anchors sniffle as she pretended to analyse the events in an unbiased fashion. The newspeople couldn’t keep the smiles off their faces. Crowds all over the world danced in the streets and drank themselves silly in thoroughly inappropriate time zones. The last time the world got so involved (though in varying ways) was on September 11, 2001.
If you didn’t spend most of Wednesday morning processing a sense of relief, joy, and hope, you’re either dead or brain-dead (there’s a name for that political position, but in the spirit of bipartisanship, I’m not going to tell you what it is). Sloganeering is forever richer for this election. Think of the possibilites: ‘Yes We Can’, ‘Maybe We Could’, ‘You Really Did, ‘We Really Shouldn’t’ and so forth.
People may well always ask each other, as they did when JFK was shot, and when the Twin Towers fell, Where were you when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States?