The year was 1980.  I was living in Washington DC, working as an au paire for a family headed by a  Democratic pollster, a Dungeness-crab-loving Jew raised in San Francisco.   He was fascinated by the fact that his young live-in nanny, a junk-food-loving Baptist raised in Missouri, was a registered Republican, and I remember answering pollster-type questions at the dinner table concerning my beliefs. 

“So you voted, Jennifer?”

“Yes, by absentee ballot.”

“Very good, I approve.  Who did you vote for, may I ask?”

I answered, “Reagan.”

Non judgmentally, he pressed:  ”Interesting.  OK, why?”

I struggled to articulate why Reagan, not Carter.  My answers were half-baked.  I was 23 years old, and half-baked myself.  I voted the way my parents voted.

In January 1981, it was an easy matter to attend Reagan’s inaugeration.  My college friend Ellen brought alone a Spanish wineskin, and we sipped horrible but warming plonk from its mouthpiece throughout the morning, perched on freezing cold aluminum bleachers on Pennsylvania Avenue. 

My overwhelming memories of that historic day? 

A bitterly cold behind, a bursting bladder, and a brief glimpse of the Gipper and Nancy waving from a limo. 

Today, in stark contrast, I’ll join a group of women friends in a cozy apartment in suburban Philadelphia to bask in the warm glow of a TV screen.  We will eat, we will drink, we will above all be merry. 

A toast to the Obama years!

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