I’m a little obsessed with Michelle and Barack Obama’s love story right now. I mean, just look at any photo of them together. #relationshipgoals. Like just about everyone else I know, I’m reading Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming. Even the stranger I was talking to in a brewery was reading it. (Only I, it seems, can go to a bar trying to meet men, and instead the nice-looking guy at the counter introduces me to his girlfriend.)
Anyway, because I was also recently getting ready to enter my manuscript into the Golden Heart contest, my critique partners told me I needed to read Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes. And that’s how I noticed the true life story of Michelle Robinson meeting her future husband and love of her life, Barack Obama, hit pretty much all the romantic act I to midpoint story beats. Just more proof that romance stories are legit and based on real life, contrary to what some snooty, sexist critics like to claim.
Below I list the relevant romantic plot beats from Hayes’ book, and the corresponding example from Michelle Obama’s memoir.
Michelle first heard of Barack when the senior partner at the law firm she worked at asked her if she’d mentor an incoming summer associate. She agreed, and then looked up his photo, which she describes as “a less-than-flattering, poorly lit head shot of a guy with a big smile and a whiff of geekiness.” But then she called him to formally introduce herself: “I’d been pleasantly startled by the voice on the other end of the line—a rich, even sexy, baritone that didn’t seem to match his photo one bit.”
No Way #1
Yeah, so, Barack Obama was late on his first day at work.Michelle was not impressed.
“‘Any sign of this guy?’” I called to Lorraine.
Her sigh was audible. ‘Girl, no,’ she called back. She wasamused, I could tell. She knew how tardiness drove me nuts—how I saw it asnothing but hubris.”
The law firm’s goal was to recruit Barack for a full-timeposition once he had his law degree, and Michelle’s mentorship was critical tohis likelihood of accepting the firm’s offer.
“My assignment was to make sure he was happy in the job,that he had someone to come to if he needed advice.”
No Way #2
Michelle started to see Barack’s positive attributes: he wasa good listener, confident about his path in life, wanted to affect socialchange. And yet—
“Not once, though, did I think about him as someone I’d wantto date. For one thing, I was his mentor at the firm. I’d also recently swornoff dating altogether, too consumed with work to put any effort into it. Andfinally, appallingly, at the end of lunch Barack lit a cigarette, which wouldhave been enough to snuff any interest, if I’d had any to begin with.”
Inkling This Could Work
As they worked together and socialized at the law firm’s functions, Michelle noticed that she missed Barack if she did not see him face-to-face every day.
Then one evening they went to a work event to see Les Miserables. She hated it, and so didhe. He asked if she wanted to leave during intermission. Normally she would havestuck it through to the end. “I endured misery for the sake of appearances. Butnow, it seemed, I’d joined up with someone who did not.” They slipped out ofthe theater and into the warm Chicago night.
At a company barbecue, Michelle for the first time really appreciated Barack’s physicality, his attractiveness both inside and out.
“He addressed all the secretaries by name and got along witheveryone—from the older, stuffier lawyers to the ambitious young bucks who werenow playing basketball. . . . I was struck for the first time by the spectacleof him—this strange mix-of-everything man.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
So, I’ve been super busy lately, between working onmanuscripts and learning the ropes of being the newly-elected president of LERA.Too busy to be on Bumble, reading snarky comments from guys who think I don’trespond quickly enough.
Maybe it’s time for my destiny man to present himself.
I can hope, can’t I?