Malia Obama, Michelle Obama
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Barack and Michelle Obama may have been the president and first lady of the United States for the entirety of Malia Obama’s high school years, but that doesn’t mean Malia was any less concerned about her parents’ potential for embarrassment than other teens. In her new book, Becoming, Michelle details the events of her daughter’s prom night, which included, most prominently, a stern warning from the then-16-year-old to her parents that they “be cool.”

“On the appointed evening, her date arrived in his car, clearing security at the southeast gate of the White House, following the path up and around the South Lawn by which heads of state and other visiting dignitaries normally arrived, and then gamely—bravely—walking into the Dip Room dressed in a black suit,” Michelle writes, according to People, adding that she and Barack had made a prom-night-only exception to the rule against members of the first family traveling in a vehicle without Secret Service. As the Obamas rode a White House elevator down to meet Malia’s date—“a boy she kind of liked”—the now-20-year-old turned to her parents and begged, “Just be cool please, okay?”

“Her embarrassment [had] already [begun] to smolder as we rode the elevator downstairs,” Michelle continues. “I was barefoot, and Barack was in flip-flops. Malia wore a long black skirt and an elegant bare-shouldered top. She looked beautiful and about twenty-three years old.” Though the ensuing interaction was “a bit excruciating” in Malia’s eyes, Michelle assures readers that she and her husband of 26 years did, indeed, keep their cool. “Barack and I shook the young man’s hand, snapped a few pictures, and gave our daughter a hug before sending them on their way,” she writes, and then shares the real reason they were able to stay so calm. “We took what was perhaps unfair comfort in the knowledge that Malia’s security detail would basically ride the boy’s bumper all the way to the restaurant where they were going for dinner before the dance and would remain on quiet duty throughout the night.”

Barack, too, has previously echoed those sentiments, explaining in a 2016 radio interview that he had federal security procedures to thank, in part, for keeping him relatively untroubled by the thought of Malia and her younger sister, Sasha, beginning to date. “The truth is, I’m pretty relaxed about it for two reasons,” he said, according to ABC News. “One is Michelle: She’s such a great example of how she carries herself, her self-esteem, not depending on boys to validate how you look, or not letting yourself be judged by anything other than your character and intelligence.” And secondly: “They have Secret Service.”

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