Obama Lang Syne

When the news that George W. Bush had been reelected began to pour in around 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 4, 2004, Justin Krebs, a 30-year-old political organizer who lives in Hell’s Kitchen, was driving up the New Jersey Turnpike after a day of last-minute canvassing for John Kerry in Philadelphia. This year, he’s even more anxious about being stuck in transit.

“Everyone who saw Neil Armstrong land on the moon remembers where they were when they were watching the coverage,” said Mr. Krebs, “and now everyone wants to know where they will be the moment this election is decided.”

Indeed, Decision 2008 is causing a ripple of positively New Year’s Eve-esque anxiety in New York. Where are the parties? Whom to be with? What to drink—Champagne or Maker’s?

You could watch it at home, of course; ABC News is broadcasting live from Times Square. But, as Mr. Krebs pointed out, “most people wanna be someplace where it’s a shared experience.”

The economy’s in shambles, the war in the Middle East drags on, and in less than a week, not only are we going to pick the person who is supposed to fix it all, but for the first time in history we are going to send either a black man or a woman to the White House.

Yes, it’s going to be one doozy of an election! Historic. Epochal. And possibly very long; recall that many people went to bed in 2000 believing that Al Gore had won.

“I think that because this election is so monumental, nobody should really be alone,” said Alissa Levin, 38, a graphic designer who’s throwing a party in her Madison Square Park apartment—a way, she said, of exerting some control over a situation whose outcome is out of her hands. “I want to know where I’m going to be and who I’m going to be with.” 

Meredith Franco Meyers, who lives in Brooklyn Heights, will be watching the returns in her brother-in-law’s living room on the Lower East Side with a group of family and close friends. “We all feel like this is the biggest election of our lives,” said Ms. Meyers, 30, an editor at eurocheapo.com. “I feel like one day I’ll be talking to my children about the night I sat around with their dad and Uncle Tom and Uncle Ben, and we watched this election take place.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates, a 33-year-old Harlem resident and contributing editor at The Atlantic, is letting his 8-year-old son, Samori, stay up past his bedtime: “I think the future ‘adult him’ would like to have seen some of this,” Mr. Coates said.

Of course, little Samori, becoming an adult means sometimes responsibilities conflict with desires. Chris O’Connell, 25, who lives in Greenpoint and plays drums in a band called Tijuana, has a show in Philadelphia on election night. “I’m super-stressed about it,” said Mr. O’Connell, who’d prefer to spend the evening in front of the TV with his girlfriend. “I want to be home, relaxing, because it’s gonna be a tense night for everyone.”

What about those New Yorkers who, in our overwhelmingly liberal city, choose to spend election night by their lonesome because, well, they’re rooting for the other team?

For Martin Glenn, 32, a McCain supporter and content director for a Web start-up who lives in the East Village, this year’s political contest conjures memories of the 1987 Super Bowl, when he was the lone Washington Redskins fan in a family gunning for the Denver Broncos. He spent Super Bowl Sunday alone in his basement, lights off, with a Redskins poster pinned up behind the TV.

His plans for next Tuesday are similar.

“I don’t want to see them clapping every two seconds when something comes across the screen; cracking jokes,” he said of his left-leaning friends. “I’m happy with what I’m going to be doing: staying at home by myself.”

Also keeping things small: Drew Toal, 27, an editor for Time Out New York, who is scheduled to watch the proceedings with his girlfriend at a bar in Bushwick, where they live.

“I hate the whole idea of it,” snarled Mr. Toal, meaning the forced bonhomie and group spectatorship of election night parties. “I just kind of hole up at home at times like that. The fact that it’s gotten to the point where people are already planning on celebrating, I just find that depressing.”


Obama Lang Syne