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The Obamas Describe Their First Date, Make Funny Faces

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By Cooper Fleishman on June 25, 2012


Barack Obama’s PR team released a new, straight-to-Tumblr video of the prez and Michelle talking about their first date, which is, of course, choke-on-a-banana-split charming: After a trip to Chicago’s Art Institute (“take notes, guys”), they took a stroll down Michigan Avenue and caught a showing of Spike Lee’s just-released Do the Right Thing. It was 1989, and Barack, the Harvard Law Review’s new editor, was working at Sidley Austin, a law firm. Michelle Robinson was his adviser.

The best part of the video (at bottom), hands down, has got to be Obama’s string of shit-eating grins when Michelle starts to talk about him.

Michelle is a tremendously strong person, and has a very strong sense of herself and who she is and where she comes from. But I also think in her eyes you can see a trace of vulnerability that most people don’t know, because when she’s walking through the world she is this tall, beautiful, confident woman. There is a part of her that is vulnerable and young and sometimes frightened, and I think seeing both of those things is what attracted me to her. And then what sustains our relationship is I’m extremely happy with her, and part of it has to do with the fact that she is at once completely familiar to me, so that I can be myself and she knows me very well and I trust her completely, but at the same time she is also a complete mystery to me in some ways. And there are times when we are lying in bed and I look over and sort of have a start. Because I realize here is this other person who is separate and different and has different memories and backgrounds and thoughts and feelings. It’s that tension between familiarity and mystery that makes for something strong, because, even as you build a life of trust and comfort and mutual support, you retain some sense of surprise or wonder about the other person.

—Barack Obama, from “A Couple in Chicago,” by Mariana Cook, featured in The New Yorker January 2009

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