Me and my three die-hard Obama Mama galpals had signed up for the Nevada "Drive For Change" canvassing campaign when it was announced Obama would be making a last-minute stop in Vegas on his way back from Hawaii. It felt like kismet to me and my Obamazon sisters. We were ecstatic. After all, we were four peri-menopausal women ditching our kids and hitting the road for the man we loved. There may even have been a bit of spontaneous squealing in the car.
We canvassed with zeal, knocking on doors in a desperately poor section of North Las Vegas, getting a chance to meet the Americans who needed Obama the most. It was a grueling and sobering day. Obama was scheduled to start right at 3pm at Bonanza High School, but at 2:30 we decided to push through and finish our list of voters before heading over. Besides, we reasoned, there was no way he’d start on time, right?
We could hear Barack's voice as we ran from the parking lot to the football field. Just as we got through the metal detectors applause filled the air and crowds began flowing out off the football field. It was over. We had missed the whole thing. A chopper flew off overhead and we knew our guy was on it. I sagged. I was tired and rudderless. Far from home, I didn’t know why I was here. We trudged dispiritedly through the parking lot back to our car. We had another round of door knocking to do before we could pack it in for the day. I wanted to cry.
Just then a group of sharp-dressed guys in polo shirts and aviator frames cut a diagonal in front of us. They were clearly an entourage of some kind and were ushering a frail figure dressed in all in black. “Oh my God,” said Deb, ”its Barry Manilow!” And indeed it was he, but Barry Manilow looking more like a folk-art dried apple figurine version of himself than the schnozzalicious, blow-dried hunk I remember from 1975, when I had a massive sixth grade crush on him. Now he was a leathery husk who couldn’t have weighed more than thirty pounds. His bodyguards looked like they were keeping him from breaking a hip, rather than from being attacked by fans.
“I have to meet him,” I blurted, feeling like if I could meet Barry, it might make missing Barack hurt a little less.
"Done," said Deb, and just like that she and Christine were off and running. My girls were going to get me Barry. I followed.
We tracked him through the crowd, which being mostly under forty, didn’t even seem to notice the star shining amongst them. We caught up just as he boarded his hotel bus, disappearing behind tinted glass. Another missed opportunity. We started to walk away in defeat, but then I stopped. This wasn't a day for giving up. This was a day for making change happen. I screamed, “We love you, Barry!” my voice hooking with all the pent-up emotion and love I had wanted to throw at Barack, but didn’t get to.
Barry was quiet, almost shy. His buddies asked how we liked Obama's speech and we told them we’d missed it because we were canvassing. Manilow and his posse regarded us with obvious respect and admiration.
“Thank you for doing what you did today,” Barry told us. “We need change.”
Oh Barry, you came and you gave without taking. Thank you.