In 1994, I was a sophomore in college. I voted in the elections that year, of course, but I didn't follow politics very closely and I didn't have much sense of the importance of midterm elections (after all, if you got the right senators and congresspeople in office in your state, what did it matter what happened elsewhere?).
The morning after the elections I ran into Fred, an editor for the student publication for which I was then half-heartedly writing. Fred was very into politics. I had no idea yet who'd won back home, and if I'd heard on the radio about the "Republican Revolution," it didn't mean much to me--I mean, there was still a Democrat in the White House, right? As I got closer, I could see that Fred was wearing a dark suit and tie and some kind of thing on his arm.
"Hey, Fred." I said. "Nice--uh, nice suit."
"I'm in mourning," he announced, tossing his abnormally large head. Then he waited. When it became clear that I wasn't going to complete his sentence or start commiserating, he continued, ". . . at the Democrats' losing Congress. That's why I have my black armband on."
"Oh, yeah." I said. "Well, uh, too bad about that, huh?" And I kept walking, thinking, okay, dude.
Now, you can see right here why Fred went on to become (in no particular order) a Rhodes Scholar, a city councilman, a civil rights lawyer, and a clerk for the Supreme Court--while I'm a no-account blogger with lots of debt and no connections in an economically depressed corner of the country.
But people, I've learned! It's 12 years on, and I now care very much about the midterm elections--so much so that I'm obsessed with races in states I've never even visited, and I've hardly been able to plan my classes, what with clicking back and forth between websites these past 48 hours. I've got all kinds of fingers and toes crossed, and a bottle of Scotch at the ready for good news or bad.
(That being said? I still think that Fred is a tool.)