A totally off-character confession: I’m just not that into the State of the Union. I say “off-character” because I’m a politically engaged law school grad who spends all day sorting out legal issues. And because I was once this child:
But the SOTU isn’t that interesting. Everything the president will say has been sussed out and leaked already. And the president never drops major new information, anyway. The address never starts with “Well guys, the union’s not doing so great” or “Man, has anyone noticed that the union really went down the shitter this year?” If it did, I’d be way more into it.
Still, I can’t just skip the State Of The Union. I want to know what all of the jokes are about the next day. So I watch it – grudgingly – but fill my time in other ways too.
I didn’t look up for the first 15 minutes of the speech because I was cleaning and polishing my shoes. Like doing my nails, the effect was so good that I swore I was going to make this part of my regular upkeep and maintenance. If you’re reading this and thinking “oh, I never really polish my shoes” – DO IT. And if you’re reading this and thinking “you dumb slob, that’s part of my Sunday night routine every week,” CAN IT. I feel bad enough already.
So then I did look up at the screen, and spent a while wondering if there’s a special tie-language. Was Boehner’s violet tie a coded message for “Bipartisan as fuck?” Was Biden’s striped tie conveying “red states and blue states working together, but I’d really like to mute the red to a nice soft coral?”
I scanned the crowd for people falling asleep, which is also a good way to entertain yourself at religious services. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was definitely getting some nods in. As we tell my nieces and nephews, even heroes have bedtimes.
I look at Boehner, and wonder if we are all living in a Neil Gaiman story where the real John Boehner has been replaced with one made entirely out of leather.
Then I stop looking up again, because I was tossing clothes to donate into a trash bag. Since I read Marie Kondo’s ever-so-slightly whackadoo book I feel like I can’t get rid of enough things. I’ve mentioned it here before and will keep doing so in the hope that someone finds this in a Google search and explains to me how you’re supposed to fold and store bras.
One fun SOTU activity is counting how many times Obama makes references to things that he’s pretty sure everyone likes. I count children, Instagram, and Pope Francis.
Another fun one is to watch for the Politics Of Clapping. For the first 10 minutes, people clap after every sentence and I wonder if their palms hurt. The clapping slows later on, but you can still watch GOP members pointedly not clapping frequently. They really have to pay attention though, because you can’t pointedly not clap when the POTUS says something nice about veterans or teachers.
Okay, and then I got real existential for a while and thought about time. It feels like the 2008 election just happened, but for kids today this administration is spanning their entire childhood. I remember watching Bill Clinton get sworn in to his first term in my first-grade computer classroom with those giant yellow-white monitors with the black screens. And I watched the last day of his last term while chatting with my friends on AIM as a high school freshman. It’s really hard to believe that in a few years, that much time will have passed since 2008.
Then I stopped getting so thoughtful because I was focusing on getting steps in to meet my Fitbit goal (GSI – that’s our abbreviation, feel free to use it!).
Before I knew it, the State of The Union was over for another year. God bless you, and God bless America, and God bless us, everyone.