Obama prom photos, big hair and all: Were those the good old days?

Yes, even the leader of the free world had a life before handling economic crises and overseas conflicts. The just-published pictures show a beaming Barack Obama, arms around the shoulders of his prom date.

Punahou School/AP/File
This photo released by the Punahou School in Honolulu shows Barack Obama on a page from his 1978 senior yearbook. At left Obama plays basketball with an unidentified classmate. In Obama's senior class photo (r.) he goes by the nickname Barry.

It’s like finding out that your parents had a life before you came into the picture, or that your first-grade teacher doesn’t always wear sensible shoes and go by Mrs. Cooper.

Yes, even the leader of the free world had a life before handling economic crises and juggling overseas conflicts.

In President Obama’s case, that means embarrassing prom pictures, big hair, and a garish fashion sense (see, he’s just like us!). It’s available for our viewing pleasure thanks to some 1979 photos of Mr. Obama in Time magazine that show the president, then a student at Punahou School in Honolulu, with his date before the prom. The pictures show a beaming 17-year-old Barack clad in a white suit jacket, blue tie, and lei, arms around the shoulders of his date, Megan Hughes. Also in the pictures are Greg Orme and his date, Kelli Allman, who offered the photos to Time (for which, we think she should be retroactively crowned prom queen).

Also published by Time was a note Obama left in Ms. Allman’s yearbook, calling her “sweet and foxy” and declaring, “You really deserve better than clowns like us; you even laugh at my jokes!”

He might be right. After all, this was before Obama had a speechwriter, media training, and a staff at the ready to write perfectly scripted jokes for events just like this (ahem, White House Correspondents' Dinner, aka nerd prom.

“It was a really fun, happy time. We were all cracking up, and everyone was smiling,” Allman told the magazine.

Sure, Obama’s come a long way since his awkward high school years (and we’re primarily talking about his fashion sense), but we bet he’s pining for them right about now.

After enduring a modern-day version of the seven plagues, political edition – a grueling reelection campaign, an 11th-hour budget battle that pushed the nation off a cliff, a crushing defeat in the gun debate, excruciating attempts at bipartisanship, and most recently, a trio of scandals that’s prompted references to Watergate and “the second-term curse” – the prom photos probably come as a breath of fresh, Hawaiian air to the president, big hair, funny clothes and all.

Oh, to be 17, in Hawaii, and with nary a care in the world.

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