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It's a story I look forward to telling for the rest of my life: On the night Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, I was among the blissfully happy throng at the Showbox at the Market, the Seattle nightclub hosting The Stranger's election night party, which eventually spilled out onto First Avenue, where roaming hordes of citizens merged into a block-long mass of howling joy. It was intoxicating, as was the booze I'd been drinking throughout the night, as Obama claimed Florida and Virginia and Ohio, and I watched in awe as the next First Family strode onstage at Chicago's Grant Park.
The sight of the Obama family taking the stage filled me with emotions I'd never experienced before, all of them intense and more pleasurable than not, and hovering around the intersection of joyous hope/hopeful joy and an unnerving flash flood of patriotism. These emotions required more liquor, and by the time I made my way out of the Showbox into the street-throng, I was not drunk but I was not sober.
One of the great things about working in "the media" is the opportunity to meet tons of interesting people—artists and writers and musicians and dancers and actors and weird street dudes with the ability to pop out their eyeballs. One of the downsides, for me at least, is the ability to retain but a fraction of these fascinating people's names, and on election night, I walked into the classic nightmare scenario of a friendly, extremely familiar-looking person shaking my hand and calling me by name. I smiled back and made small talk—"OH MY GOD! Can you fucking believe it?"—while my brain pieced together clues from his conversation, which informed me he was a comedian and had recently performed at the new comedy night at Capitol Club, which I remembered was either hosted or curated or both by Solomon Georgio, the Seattle comedian who'd won first place in the Stranger Gong Show, which I'd hosted, which had to be where I knew him from. By the time my guy Jake strolled up to us, I was confident enough to attempt an introduction by name: "Solomon, this is Jake. Jake, this is Solomon Georgio, who won the Stranger Gong Show...."
Solomon Georgio's face dropped. "Dave," he said, in a voice whose woundedness I pray I'm inflating in retrospect. "It's Hari."
Hari Kondabolu is a Seattle comedian who now belongs to the world and who'd recently performed at a Sunday Capitol Club show hosted by Solomon Georgio, another Seattle comedian. Neither Hari Kondabolu nor Solomon Georgio is white and both are Seattle comedians, but despite these amazing commonalities, they are not the same person.
I don't remember exactly what I said. There was no pretending that what just happened didn't just happen, but there was nothing worth saying. I apologized and prayed for God to kill me.