Yes, you read that correctly. And no, I don’t mean the President of the Historical Society of Washington, DC either. I mean the President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama, along with the First Lady Michelle Obama.
We were at this Mexican restaurant called Oyamel. I wasn’t particularly enjoying my “authentic” meal. Was that seaweed my fritters were served on? And since when are french fries Mexican? But just as I was about to write off the place, my husband’s jaw drops. I look around and see two familiar faces being led to a table not 15 feet away from ours.
OMG. It’s Obama… and Michelle!
OMG. Is this for real?
At first, we weren’t sure if it was okay to go up to them and ask for an autograph, so my husband slyly took this photo from our table to capture this surreal moment. I swear, for 15 solid minutes, both I and Mr. Rafia had the giddiest of smiles on our faces. I couldn’t help but look over at them every 5 seconds. Yeah, we looked like tourists. But we’re going to look like tourists at a shishy* restaurant anyway! I almost forgot how much I disliked what I had ordered. Now that’s something! The Obamas, on the other hand, were so blithely unaware of their onlookers. They acted like a normal couple. Go figure!
Afterwards, with the shock still not worn off, we mustered the courage to go up to their table and ask for an autograph. So what if the other diners resigned to the low quality photos taken from their phones? Not us! This was a once in a lifetime opportunity! My sister-in-law, also with us that evening, remarked that for the 11 years she’s been in D.C. not once has she bumped into anyone famous. This was my first time in D.C. “This is not a coincidence,” I told them. “Let’s do it. I’ll tell Secret Service I went to UChicago. They’ll be cool with it.” Besides, a Muslim couple – a hijab-clad wife, no less – taking a photo with the President at a private dinner? What a great photo opp for him, you know what I mean? The UChicago connection did the trick – we totally hit it off. And later that evening, the Obamas invited us over to their place.
Okay, so it didn’t exactly happen like that. We did visit their house though!
Technically, we did have dinner with the Obamas. Just not with them with them, y’know? We were however in the same restaurant as them, sat in the same private dining area as they did, and Secret Service did not kick us out. That counts!
Though we respected their privacy and didn’t go up to them and ask for an autograph – mostly because the two not-so-Secret Servant agents standing there were staring at our table the entire time – seeing The President and the First Lady so candidly and unexpectedly like that made our entire trip. How many people can say that they were in the same restaurant at the same time as the President of the United States? I don’t even identify as an American and that’s wicked awesome.
What’s the point in even writing about the rest of the trip? Everything else just pales in comparison.
Although, pretending to be General Secretary of the Soviet Union at the Spy Museum was pretty cool for the whole 30 seconds it took to take this photo:
So yeah, I didn’t happen to bump into Biden, nor see Jefferson’s Qur’an as it’s being digitized and will most likely not be viewable to the public in the future, and Baked & Wired was simply alright and not worth the fuss (no cupcake will ever surpass a generous slice of cake, sorry)… but a weekend to remember indeed.
I had dinner with the President, mommy!
* I looked up “shishy” and was dismayed to not even find it on Urban Dictionary! My brother says it all the time and so I guess I assumed it was a slang term. But apparently, it’s not. Whatever. I much prefer it over its synonym “bougie.” People don’t realize that when you say “bougie” you end up sounding like one yourself. Also, I’m not a hipster.