Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA

Old White Men For Obama

Published in Strays.

I’m walking to the gym and I catch a glimpse of someone up ahead of me, standing behind an S.U.V. As I get closer I realize that it’s a woman and she’s taking a picture of something with her phone. As I get closer still, I realize that it’s a slightly-past-college-age girl taking a picture of a bumper sticker that reads “Old White Men for Obama.” Hashtag: blog-worthy.

She sees me seeing her capturing the moment, and I smile at her. Seemingly embarrassed, she smiles back while saying something and turns to head the other way — the same way I’m heading. I take my earbuds out only to catch nothing she says, and I speak up, trying my best to be spontaneous and funny, “So, who do you like more? Old white men or Obama?”

Appearing momentarily speechless, she says something quickly under her breath about men before moving on to how she does actually like Obama. It was a strange question posed to her by a strange man walking alone on a Friday night, a man who also could have been an angry Republican freshly bitter about the election, attempting to sabotage her innocent moment of Instagramming with an anti-Obama rhetoric-bomb. I didn’t realize that until I said it. I’m not sure how I would have answered my question if I was her. We walked together for somewhere between an instant and a moment before it all occurred to me.

“I didn’t realize how creepy that might have sounded — being an older white man asking you if you like old white men.” She sort of laughed and said she was thinking about what she might have looked like, her taking pictures of bumper stickers. I said I’d forget the whole thing if she would. We agreed and mentally shook on it. Nice girl.

It had been a good day prior to that moment, but the culmination of things appeared to have contributed to a timely wave of physical energy. I smiled my way through the workout. While walking home I came across a gathering of police cars not far from my apartment, blocking off one side of traffic across from the grocery store I was heading to. I purchased dinner and continued walking home before I saw a tall man overlooking what had to be seven or eight cop cars. Each of the vehicles had their lights set on strobe, and number of officers in reflective vests were assuming various form of police business across a city block. I walked up to the tall man and asked him what he thought had happened. He pointed at somewhere around ten o’clock to where there was something still in the street, broken, which I couldn’t quite make out: Wreckage of some sort that had colors I associate with children’s toys. I didn’t really want to think about it. We talked for a minute about the dangers of jaywalking before he mumbled something about making it home safe to eat his ice cream. I slapped my grocery bag and told him that’s what I was hoping to do, too.

After dinner I scooped a bowl’s worth and ate my ice cream in front of the television. In hindsight, I probably should have introduced myself.