Waiting for Michelle Obama


I swore to myself, I wasn’t gonna do it. Really, I had so (so, so) many other tasks to accomplish today rather than trying to chase down the motorcade of Michelle Obama.

And while my little digital camera is nifty, it lacks the power of a big, ol’ telephoto lens.

But as more calls regarding this momentous occasion in our fair city were made and received, the reporter in me could resist no longer. And I caved.

While trying to retain this resolve not to go on a goose chase, my own advance team of Terrace Tipsters tempted me with a steady stream of updates about a luncheon where Mrs. Obama might show up: Men in Secret Service-style suits had previously scoured the neighborhood. The parking valets were at the ready. A nearby construction team halted work.

Then, an unmarked catering van arrived. When a tipster finally confirmed this culinary crew hailed from McCall Associates, I knew it was time to move in.

I raced outside, hailed a cab and hot-wheeled it over to Presidio Terrace, the site of a luncheon in honor of White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers. Talk along the Terrace? Mrs. Obama would make a fly-by after her participation in the volunteer building event with California’s First Lady, Maria Shriver, at Bret Harte Elementary School.

This luncheon was at the home of Pamela Joyner (who attended the inauguration of President Barack Obama). Just across the street, a small gaggle of fellow glimpsers had staked their claim atop the well-placed steps at the home of Paige Qvale, who warmly welcomed all-comers.

Paige Qvale (top), (next step) Elaine McKeon and Mark Krinsky, Judy Nicoli and Eileen Michael

The excitement of a full-fledged Obama-sighting sizzled under this glorious blue-sky day as luncheon attendees began to arrive.

As we were not on the guest list, we can only surmise (from across the street) that the actual list formed some sort of arts-type summit.

Among the guests (we were able to ID and roughly in arrival order): Contemporary Jewish Museum Board Chairwoman Cissie Swig and her daughter, Susan Swig; SF Symphony Board President John Goldman; AT&T California President Ken McNeely; Fred Levin and Nancy Livingston; SFMOMA Executive Director Neal Benezra; arts patron Ann Hatch; International Museum of Women co-founder Fran Streets; SHN Theatrical Producer Carole Shorenstein Hays; Rita Moreno and her husband, Lenny Gordon; arts patron Carol Doll; Asian Art Museum Director Jay Xu; Stern Grove Board President Doug Goldman and his wife, Lisa Goldman; SF Ballet Board member Ann Fisher; arts patron Pat McBaine; SF Ballet Immediate Past Board Chairman Jim Herbert and (carrying a distinctive Tiffany blue box for the hostess), Jennifer Siebel Newsom.

Suddenly, McCall Associates Chef de Cuisine Josip Martinovic appeared in the driveway across the street carrying a tray of glimmering crystal and quickly made his way to our gathered group.

Perhaps taking pity on us, he graciously passed some hors d’oeuvres and handed us shots of fresh, sweet and cool asparagus soup. Oh, hooray!!

We grabbed our notebook and cornered him before he crossed back over to the Promised Land. And he most kindly shared the menu-- the very menu from which Michelle Obama might (or might not) dine upon: asparagus soup; chicken with a fresh vegetable succotash; heirloom tomato salad and a raspberry tart.


Now, the real wait for Obama was on: would she or wouldn’t she make it? Even with the bright summer sun beating down, our group determined, Yes We Can ... Wait A Bit Longer.

But the traffic flow soon dried up. Others in our group were too warm or left for meetings. An hour passed. Then more minutes ticked slowly by. I-Phones were consulted -- the Bret Harte event was well over. Yet all was quiet on the Terrace.

As the valets moved back into position, bringing around cars for the soon-to-be-exiting guests -- our enthusiasm was promptly curbed.

“Let’s go. Yes, let’s go.”

“I don’t seem to be able to ... depart.”

“Nothing to be done.”

“Such is life.”

Alas, we abandoned all hope of waiting for Obama.

Still  ... we have a few photos below

Rita Moreno ... really, we swear

Jennifer Siebel Newsom ... honest!

SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra pops over to our Peanut Gallery for a visit

McCall Associates Chef de Cuisine Josip Martinovic delivers the goods

Stanlee Gatti tries to pretend he's not with with us, waiting for Obama

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