Keeping up with the Obamas

How the new administration helped to bring out the romantic in a husband.

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    President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama at the Eastern Inaugural Ball in January 2009.
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I looked up at the TV to see Barack twirling Michelle around the dance floor. They were kissing, holding hands, and, at one point, he even dipped her. For the women reading this, I ask you, "When was the last time you were dipped?"

"Obama is very affectionate with Michelle in public. He really loves her," I said to my husband, Cesar. We were sitting on the sofa eating chips and dip.

"Maybe he loves her, maybe he doesn't," Cesar said. "Part of being a good politician, after all, is being a good actor. Why do you think Ronald Reagan was so successful?"

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"What are you suggesting – that Barack Obama is 'acting' as if he loves her?" I said. "Excuse me, but Barack Obama does not fake love!"

"Now who is being naive, Judy?" he said, à la Al Pacino in "The Godfather." "Until he actually does something, he's just a lot of hype."

I remembered a conversation I'd had earlier in the week with friends who had noticed that their husbands seemed jealous of Barack. Just as their stock portfolios are taking a hit, and perhaps their careers, they see Obama, and what's he doing? He's the leader of the free world! They see him jauntily hopping aboard Air Force One, signing bills, conducting press conferences, and typing on his BlackBerry, all the while looking great. Let's face it, he's the big man on campus right now.

"You know, Barack and Michelle have a date night every week." I looked over at Cesar, who was rolling his eyes. "I saw a news clip about this. They went out into the streets of America and spoke to couples who said they were planning on starting date night, too."

We'd gone out a lot when we were first married seven years ago, but lately it had morphed into staying home, ordering takeout, and watching movies – me in my pajamas and he in his boxers. But now I felt encouraged by Barack and Michelle to set our marital bar higher.

"Have you noticed we don't get out much anymore?" I asked.

"You know, I got married because I didn't want to go on any more dates," he whined.

"Is it so painful to go out with me to a nice restaurant and talk? I'm sure Barack doesn't feel that way. I'm sure after a busy day in the Oval Office, he's just dying to talk to Michelle."

It was settled. The next day I made a dinner reservation at Chez Julien's for the following weekend. Yes, we can. Yes, we will.

Date night got off to a bumpy start. We were late and they gave away our table. I'll bet that never happens to the Obamas. We waited at the bar. Chez Julien's was packed with well-dressed people.

"Look, this is what couples are doing on Friday nights while we're home eating takeout," I observed.

"Who are these people anyway?" Cesar said. "How do they have the money and time to be here?"

We were on our second round of drinks before we were seated. After we ordered, our conversation turned to politics.

"Closing Guantánamo Bay. A $500,000 salary cap on CEOs who got government bailouts. These are good first moves," Cesar said. Was he starting to see that Barack was more than just hype?

I reached across the table to take his hand. "Are you enjoying your meal?"

"Not as much as your cooking," he replied, squeezing my hand tight.

"Leave room for dessert. I've got a special treat for us at home," I said.

"Trust me, with these portions, leaving room isn't a problem," he replied.

Once home, I went to the kitchen to prepare our special dessert.

"Come quick," Cesar said. "Obama is being interviewed by Wolf Blitzer."

"I thought you were sick of the media 'fawning' over Obama?"

"I know, but Barack and Wolf together – and I knew you'd want to see it."

I presented dessert: a large Barack Obama gingerbread cookie. "Just what you wanted – your very own mini-Obama," he said. I gave him Obama's head, keeping a spindly leg for myself.

Sitting beside him, munching on our cookie and watching CNN in our pajamas, I felt content. Even though there had been no twirling or dipping, we had had our very own date night.

Yes, we had.

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