Will the Obamas Come?

I recently had the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C., and not meet the Obamas. I was hoping to run into them, perhaps over dinner at the White House, but that didn’t work out.

The truth is I generally don’t enjoy meeting well-known people. I find there is too much pressure to figure out what to say and I can never decide whether to fawn or not. If I am indeed an authentic fan of the person, and opt for the fawning route, I fret over just how heavy to lay it on. The other option is to pretend that I’m not engaged in Cirque du Soleil–like internal acrobatics and act calm, almost nonchalant. What did you say your name was? Oh, Barack, that’s right. Nice to meet you.

But this time I was hoping for an invitation, because for once I had plenty to say and many questions to ask. Of course at the top of my list was: “Are you coming to the Vineyard this summer?”

In the spring, it was reported that the Obamas would be vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard during the last two weeks in August. Those reports were quickly retracted as the White House issued denials. But the rumor mill spun its gold and many on the Vineyard believed the denials were issued for security purposes. If anything, they only heightened speculation.

Would they or wouldn’t they come? After all, the Clintons will be here. At least we think they will. Well, maybe they will. Has anyone gotten an unofficial official denial from the Clintons yet? And what about Chelsea getting married here? It was reported that her wedding will take place on the Vineyard in August. Then it was reported that it wouldn’t – and that she’s not even getting married. But if it did, would the Obamas attend as guests? Do the Obamas know Chelsea? Does it matter?

The anticipation is exhausting.

The day the rumors of the Obamas’ Vineyard vacation hit the presses, the Island lit up. A friend of mine with a house on the market, said, “Great. Hopefully the real estate prices will go up.” I asked a friend who’s an agent what she thought. Her response was so measured that I think somehow she had prepared it in advance: “The publicity around them being here will bring renewed interest in the Vineyard, bring more visitors to the Island, and help out a lot of people.” I don’t doubt for a second that she and everyone in her office – when not sporting their game faces – were doing happy dances about our high-profile visitors. I can only presume that when word came in that there will be no Vineyard vacation, there was a deafening sound of desk pounding. Then, I suppose, more happy dance (Clinton wedding). Desk pounding (no Clinton wedding).

The most confusing response I got was from a politically savvy woman I know. “Of course my first reaction is to be thrilled that we will have both our former and current president choose our Island as a vacation spot. I think it says an immense amount about what the Vineyard has to offer – quiet, peace, solitude – even for those among us that are real live rock stars.”

What? Does she really think there would be a second of quiet, peace, or solitude on the Island with the Obamas – and the Clintons – here? By golly, there’s not a chance. I started hyperventilating simply thinking about the throngs of people longing for, and aggressively pursuing, a glance, a handshake, a swim with the first family, better yet a photograph of you swimming with them, golf with the former president, dinner, drinks, negotiations with the secretary of state for a fairer beaches treaty – oh my gosh, how about a doggy play date? It’s going to get intense, even if we say over and over again that we want to give the Obamas and Clintons a relaxing Vineyard vacation. Oh yeah, and a wedding day to remember.

Welcome back to the Island. Or not.

Kate is an author, filmmaker, and humorist who lives in Oak Bluffs and writes regularly for the magazine about Vineyard idiosyncrasies.