Didn’t think about Barack as someone I’d want to date: Michelle Obama on first meeting

 

 

Michelle Obama found future-husband Barack refreshing, unconventional and weirdly elegant when she saw him for the first time but not once did she think about him as someone she would want to date.

Barack Obama also turned up late when he went to meet Michelle for working as her associate at a Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin in 1989.

“Despite my resistance to the hype that had preceded him, I found myself admiring Barack for both his self-assuredness and his earnest demeanour. He was refreshing, unconventional, and weirdly elegant,” Michelle says about what she felt when she saw Barack for the first time at the law firm.

But she hastens to add, “Not once, though, did I think about him as someone I’d want to date. For one thing, I was his mentor at the firm. I’d also recently sworn off dating altogether, too consumed with work to put any effort into it.”

She thought that he would be just a good summer mentee.

And finally, appallingly, at the end of lunch that day, Barack lit a cigarette, “which would have been enough to snuff any interest, if I’d had any to begin with”.

Smoking wasn’t something Michelle liked. According to her, Barack smoked the way her parents did after meals, walking down a city block, or when he was feeling anxious and needed to do something with his hands.

“Smoking was one topic where Barack’s logic seemed to leave him altogether,” she says.

But slowly things started to change.

“I think we should go out,” Barack announced one afternoon as they sat finishing a meal.

“What, you and me?” Michelle feigned shock that he even considered it a possibility. “I told you, I don’t date. And I’m your adviser,” was her argument.

Barack gave a wry laugh. “Like that counts for anything. You’re not my boss, he said. And you’re pretty cute.

Michelle comes out with all these nuggets in her memoir Becoming , published by Penguin Random House imprint Viking.

When she was a little girl, Michelle’s world was the South Side of Chicago, where she and her brother, Craig, shared a bedroom in their family’s upstairs apartment and played catch in the park, and where her parents, Fraser and Marian Robinson, raised her to be outspoken and unafraid.

But life soon look her much further afield, from the halls of Princeton, where she learned for the first time what if felt like to be the only black woman in a room, to the glassy office tower where she worked as a high-powered corporate lawyer–and where, one summer morning, a law student named Barack Obama appeared in her office and upended all her carefully made plans.

In the book, Michelle for the first time describes the early years of her marriage as she struggles to balance her work and family with her husband’s fast-moving political career. She talks about their private debate over whether Barack should make a run for the presidency and her subsequent role as a popular but oft-criticised figure during his campaign.

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