The Night the POTUS Dined in Our Neighborhood
By Michelle Higgins - 25th May 2012
Last night, after an epic afternoon of activities followed by an Open House at my oldest child’s middle school, we headed downtown for dinner. My husband was at a work function, so it was just me and the kids. We settled on a Vietnamese ‘fusion’ restaurant and I picked a table at the very back to make sure we caused the least disturbance. I needn’t have worried. The children were verging on angelic.
As I scanned the menu, my eyes were drawn to the biography of the restaurant owner, Madame Tam. Her story was epic in the true sense of the word, involving a wartime escape from Vietnam and eventual settlement in California. For many years she worked in other people’s kitchens, hoping that one day she would achieve her dream of opening her very own restaurant. Her story encapsulated all the best elements of that phenomenon we call the American dream, including the essential happy ending.
Driving home from dinner I noticed an unusual number of police vehicles lining the main street. And then I remembered that President Obama was in town. Earlier in the day my big boy had begged me to take him to see Obama, not understanding that he was here to raise campaign funds not discuss policy issues with an enthusiastic 12-year-old. So when we realised that Obama was possibly dining in ‘our’ downtown any plans of doing the sensible thing and heading home to bed after a very long day were dropped.
The 12-year-old declared with great seriousness that this was “a once in a lifetime opportunity”. My 7-year-old treated the situation as a real life version of Where’s Wally, spotting Obamas at every turn, although never The Obama. The 10-year-old wondered if the restaurant Obama was dining at was the same one her friend’s father managed. The 5-year-old asked me what it meant to be the President.
And I wondered how many times I could circle the block without being pulled over and politely asked to move on by the men in black stationed along the street.
Eventually we gave up the search. It was already late and I wasn’t sure how "looking for Obama” was going to fly on the school late slips. As we pulled into our driveway, I found myself uttering the phrase ‘our President’ and feeling that in the course of the evening we had unexpectedly become just that little bit more American.
P.S. We have another very interesting post about the young Obama and his mum here.