by Amy Edelman
My husband and I were planning our summer vacation near Salem, Mass. His sister lives there, so we could visit and then make a three-day junket somewhere we had never been.
We found lodging at the Menemsha Inn on Martha’s Vineyard in The New York Times book “36 Hours.” I checked out its website – very quiet, stylish and in a woodsy/farm setting. The website has pictures of the Obamas dining at the restaurant a year or two ago. That sealed the deal. We booked it six months in advance of our summer vacation.
We made reservations for dinner at their Beach Plum Restaurant for Tuesday night. And we almost canceled the reservation because the menu was limited and fancy, and I was afraid there would be nothing for our daughter Izzy to eat.
Our 5-year-old, the daughter of chefs, is very picky and practically lives on eggs. I said to my husband, John, “If we cancel the reservation and find out the Obamas had dinner there I will die.” We called the restaurant and were told it would accommodate Izzy’s tastes.
We arrived a few minutes late because it was raining cats and dogs. The dining room was rustic chic – rough wooden tables, ceilings and flower boxes with comfy white cushioned chairs, mason jar water glasses, fresh wildflowers from the restaurant’s farm and a stunning view of the bay.
The gardens outside our window were lush with hydrangea, rolling hills and bunnies. I snapped so many pictures with my phone the battery was near dead.
We ordered a cucumber salad with anchovies and a local cheese plate with plums and a delicious focaccia. They made Izzy the most gorgeous plate of scrambled eggs laid by their own free-range chickens that we visited on their farm earlier that day.
While we waited for our entrees we noticed a bunch of people gathering on the patio by our table just outside. We walked out to see what everyone was staring at. A gorgeous rainbow appeared. The was the last picture my phone would take.
Our entrees came after a very long time – maybe 45 minutes. Izzy was surprisingly good, drawing on the placemats, chatting about the ice cream she was to have for dessert.
After dinner Izzy and I walked outside onto the patio, down the rolling hill to see how close we could get to a free-range bunny.
On our way back up the hill we noticed a couple of guys standing quite seriously, arms crossed across chest and curly wires coming out of their ears. Their eyes were darting everywhere, searching for something. Must be Secret Service, I thought.
We sat down at our table and the table next to ours had cleared, and another guy with wiry ears was sitting there.
I turned to John and said, “I think that guy is Secret Service.”
I reminded him of the time we saw the Daily Show live and the guest was Andy Card, Bush’s press secretary. There were Secret Service all over the place and they had the same wiry ears and soldier stance.
Then our waiter appeared, asking if we would like dessert. I asked him if the President was coming and he said, “I can’t say, but if you stay for dessert it may be a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
We ordered the namesake plum cake dessert and coffee, and I started to feel light headed with anticipation. Two minutes later Michelle and Barack Obama walked in and sat down at the table next to us, 10 feet away. John and I were sitting side by side facing them (and Izzy).
I whispered to Izzy that he was our President, whom she immediately recognized! She took her drawing over to Michelle and jumped in her lap. Michelle was lovely and sweet, hugging Izzy and they both chatted with her and admired her flower drawings.
What a moment for my phone camera to die. Michelle had on a simple black dress (I think) with a long necklace that Izzy played with. Barack had on a casual button-down white shirt, charcoal pants and black dress shoes. They were a gorgeous couple.
Then Izzy began staring at them, probably taking cues from us, though we were desperately trying to be cool. Not a good combo.
We got the check so they could enjoy their dinner and privacy sans children. On our way out Izzy handed them another piece of artwork with a heart and the word “LOVE.” John shook Barack’s hand and thanked him for working so hard, and I told them how much we loved them and that they were amazing. The First Lady looked at my armful of coloring books and crayons and noted that they used to travel that way when the girls were younger.
I was nearly in tears on the way out. What luck. Now if only I had a picture to remind Izzy that she dined with a sitting, beloved President of the United States.