The jubilation on campus last night after the winner was announced was so loud, even at a distance of a mile, that I started looking out the windows in our house like a nosy old man wondering what the neighbor kids are up to. I’m sure I heard the entire drum line from the marching band going at it, and enough voices in sporadic cheering that I thought there might have been an impromptu rally in the stadium.
None of that seems to have happened—I can’t even get confirmation of freelance snare drummers—but campustown did erupt with spontaneous celebration. One student told me the only other time he’d seen such a frenzy was when we went to the Final Four. In any case, at midnight I nearly got in the car to go check out what I was missing, but after I realized my keys were in our sons’ room and that I risked waking them by going in to get them, I finished some grading and class prep and went to bed instead. I was beat but lay awake several hours, thinking things over and feeling history wash over me.
This morning things were back to normal—so much so that it felt bizarre. AOL’s front page had the announcement of Obama’s win, but within seconds had changed to ask if I’d seen Jethro from The Beverly Hillbillies lately and whether I wanted to see a photo of him at age 70. The only apparent change to the world on my walk in was that gas had fallen another cent or two to $2.09 a gallon. I taught two classes, had office hours and ate lunch on campus, and didn’t hear any mention of the election all day, except one.
A tenured professor, who looks like he’d be William Ayer’s squash partner but is in reality a diehard fiscal conservative, stood looking haggard in a doorway. He flipped me off.
“Yeah," I said. "And the mandate you rode in on. House, Senate, and the White House, Baby!”
He laughed and, heading off down the hallway, called at a distance, “You can have them. And good luck with all that!”