Remember Me? The One With the 'O' Button?

By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The morning after Election Day they began to appear, online artifacts of an emotional night, evidence that bashes around the city and beyond had transformed briefly into centers of love and brotherhood.

"We Hooked Up Election Night at Xpressions - m4m."

Awwwwww yeah.

Change happened, streets were danced upon . . . and everybody got saucy on election night. At least young Democrats got saucy, propelled into flirtation by a mixture of glee and adrenaline. Later, they were moved to search for their would-be loves by posting dozens and dozens of Missed Connections on Craigslist.

"Lucky Bar election night with ice cream cake - m4w."

This was the MC posted by Jordan Cross, a Ballston furniture manufacturer who spent his election evening chatting up a pretty girl sitting at the next table in the U Street bar. She'd printed out a state-by-state guide of electoral votes, and he kept finding excuses to borrow it. She had the guide, she had the cake, she had the candidate. She had the cute blond hair, and then she got up and left just before the speeches, before he could ask for her phone number.

This was more than regular flirting, says Cross. Regular flirting is a few games of beer pong on a Saturday night. This -- if you believe Obama supporters -- was flirting mixed with a sense of cosmic change, which emboldened people to take actions they never would have otherwise. Participants in such flirtation sound, a bit disturbingly, like alien abductees trying to describe their experiences on the mother ship: Never felt that kind of euphoria . . . Out of body . . .

Says Cross: "I was definitely feeling more unstoppable."

Says Jared Joiner: "It's like everybody felt they were automatically connected to everyone else. It felt like you were supposed to make out with someone when Obama won."

Joiner, a high school science teacher, was standing outside Bohemian Caverns when Ohio was called for Obama. The woman next to him -- pierced eyebrow, great smile -- asked to borrow his phone to call her grandmother in the Midwest. "It was really cute and endearing," Joiner says. But as the party wore on, Joiner lost track of her. The next morning he was left with nothing but a warm, fuzzy feeling and a random Ohio number in his outgoing calls.

Instances of Obama love were a nationwide phenomenon.

Adam Rinkleton is a doctoral candidate studying military history at the University of North Texas. He's never been great at talking to women, and the one at the bar on election night was "definitely more attractive than me." But in a genius move, Rinkleton decided to flirt in a way that would be hard -- unpatriotic, even -- to refuse.

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