In honor of her awesomeness this week, I thought I’d share the story of the day Michelle Obama met Jessica Packard.
It was Veterans Day 2011 and I had two tickets to the Carrier Classic college basketball game aboard the USS Carl Vinson. I was so excited. The President was going to be there, and tons of other celebrities.
These tickets were not easy for the public to get. Luckily my boss scored a bunch and was feeling generous.
So after going through intense security checks, we finally walked onto the flight deck of the ship. How beautiful. The San Diego skyline glistened in the distance. It was a deliciously perfect day and there was so much energy aboard the ship.
My boyfriend and I decided to take a stroll around the flight deck. And who did we run into? A giant of a man named Magic Johnson, one of my childhood heroes. He towered above the crowd and was very easy to spot. I could’ve gone home at that point and been happy just seeing him.
Suddenly a hush spread over the crowd. Everyone turned their heads to the left as they stared intensely at the flight path. An enormous pale blue and white airplane broke through the clouds and headed toward North Island to land. Air Force One. SO cool.
In a few minutes the President of the United States was going to be in the same space as me, Jessica Packard. I’d never met an acting president before. I saw President Clinton speak once in college but that was post-Lewinsky and office (he was a great speaker, by the way).
The crowd stood silently, excited in hopes of spotting Mr. Obama.
Then… the beautiful sounds of “Hail to the Chief” burst out of the speakers. Here he comes!
I was 10 rows from him as he walked onto the basketball court. He delivered an inspirational and moving speech in honor of Veterans Day. I couldn’t stop smiling because I was so excited. And as I looked around, I felt so lucky to be there with him and all of the troops.
I didn’t really watch the game. I’m entranced with this man who is so powerful and sitting so close to me.
At some point, we decided to get some food. My boyfriend and I headed toward the concession stand and waited in line for what seemed like forever. As we were walking back to our seats, I see her… Michelle Obama.
Immediately I established eye contact and froze in disbelief. I couldn’t move. Pretty sure my limbs were numb. I realized I was no longer in control of my body. My grin spread uncontrollably. She looked at me and smiled and said, “How are you?” I looked to my left and then to my right. Wait, she’s speaking to me?
“I’m well, how are you?” I said in a prepubescent-little-boy-voice, shaking uncontrollably. Everything was moving in slow motion as she walked by me. She stopped for a second and said, “Have a good time!” and then continued walking. I couldn’t say anything back. I simply stood there, frozen and with my mouth wide open.
What just happened? The First Lady of the United States actually spoke to me? And she’s the one who initiated the conversation?
I turned excitedly to my boyfriend to discuss what just happened.
“The First Lady just spoke to me!” I said excitedly. He just laughed.
Then… I reflected on my actions. The staring, the goofy grin, the awkward and squeaky voice… Oh no.
“Do you think she thought I was a little… eh… slow and that’s why she said hi to me?” I asked my boyfriend.
He immediately started laughing and I can tell he was thinking the same thing… Michelle Obama just encountered a “special” Jessica.
Regardless of how ridiculous I acted, I got to meet Mrs. Obama — and I’ll never forget it!
When I was little I would daydream about being an archaeologist. I would dream of traveling the world, wearing the coolest outfits (and hats), exploring dangerous caves and underground tunnels in hopes of discovering and unlocking a piece of history. Now, when I would express these dreams to my parents they would say, “Honey, there’s no money in archaeology. Maybe you should look into pursuing something else.” To which I replied, “What if I found a million year old bone? Then I’d be rich!” Way to crush a little kid’s dreams mom and dad.
Indiana Jones was my hero. And I’m pretty sure my first crush. So when I found out he was coming to an event at the museum I work at, I was beyond excited.
Hundreds of thoughts danced in my head. Is he going to be a cool celebrity? Or will he be a snobby, horrible A-list actor who will look down at us little people? Will he fall in love with me because I’m skinny like Calista Flockhart? Will he find me so beautiful that he’ll request I be in his next movie? I’ll finally be in a movie trailer! Oh the anticipation.
I handle the public relations at the museum so I knew I had to interact with him. So when I saw him enter the room that evening I immediately wanted to meet him. Turns out… he’s super cool. Really nice guy and seemed very humble for being honored for an award that evening (he flies rescue helicopter missions). I got to see THE scar on his chin. You know the one he gets when he was a young boy trying to return that artifact to the museum? So cool.
So the evening went well. We chatted, he handled the media interviews very gracefully, received his award and then left for his hotel. Goodbye Indie *tear.*
I managed to survive the evening without one, single awkward moment. So what’s the point of this blog post? Well… he decided to come back to the museum the following year.
This year, he wasn’t the one being honored with an award. He was there to support his friend. So when I went to greet him I immediately thought he would remember me. Why not? Who wouldn’t remember me? Well he didn’t. So, I started a conversation with him and Walt Cunningham (Apollo 7 astronaut) and we chatted for a few minutes. Then, I dropped my cellphone and I bent over to pick it up. Well so did he. And we bumped heads. Hard. So, well, that was awkward.
We continued chatting. Harrison was in awe of Walt, Walt was in awe of Harrison, I was in awe of Harrison, and well, no one was in awe of me. I kept laughing nervously, trying to sound interesting but I’m pretty sure I failed. After our conversation I decided to go to the bathroom and touch-up my makeup. As I was reapplying my lipstick I smiled. My smile quickly turned into a look of horror. AH! Green, pesto-like crud clogged each gap in my mouth. I looked frightening. I was talking to HARRISON FORD with an extremely excessive amount of green crap in my teeth–for about 15 minutes. And I probably gave him a concussion.
How could this have happened? What the hell did I eat? My dreams of him falling in love with me and asking me to star in a movie quickly faded away.
Well kids, with every awkward moment, there’s a lesson to be learned. LESSON TO ALL: Don’t eat anything that could potentially cause you to look like your teeth are rotting and you’re turning into some sort of evil witch before you meet one of your idols.
So, I’m pretty sure Harrison won’t be calling me anytime soon to star in the next Indiana Jones. Maybe if they’re looking for someone to play the lead nerd 😦
Overall it was a great experience. Hey, I got to meet one of my idols. He may think I’m the ultimate nerd but at least I met him. And for that, I am thankful.