Back when I was in college (Carnegie Mellon class of 2000), a friend who was attending the University of Chicago gave me a placard that was posted hither and thither on Chicago’s South Side: a dorky-faced guy with a ridiculously toothy grin smiling out at us. It read
for state senate”
My buddy Josh and I thought this was hilarious. Over the years, we turned the guy on the placard into a superhero. We’d be studying for one hard exam or another and would say to one another, “You know who could ace the piss out of this test right now?” The other would respond, “Barack Obama!” to which the first would respond, inevitably, “…for state senate!” Or we’d be at the gym: “Man, these weights are tough! … Know who could lift them without breaking a sweat?” “Barack Obama!” “…for state senate!“
The years go by. It’s 2004. There’s a dude up on the stage at the Democratic National Convention who’s making everyone ask, “Why do I have to vote for Kerry? Why can’t I vote for this guy?” Josh and I called one another: “Uh … dude, do you see who’s on stage right now?” It was surreal.
It’s still surreal. Every few months it occurs to me afresh that Josh and I were making this obscure local politician the punchline of a joke probably a decade before he became president of the United States. Bizarre.