Recently, a British newspaper posted an article titled “Barack Obama: The 50 facts you might not know.” (It’s really 51 facts, but– counting, brushing their teeth regularly, standing up to American imperialism– you can’t ask too much of the British.) I knew 22 of them. What I didn’t know is that if Barack and I ever met, we would instantly be BFFs– best friends forever. Observe:
1.) He collects Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics
I’ve seen the first two Spider-Man movies, and my favorite late night talk show host is Conan O’Brien. We’re off to a good start.
2.) He was known as “O’Bomber” at high school for his skill at basketball
Even given the fact that he’s got an inch or two on me and played high school ball, I’m 99% sure I could take him one-on-one. After all, he is 47 years old. At that age, guys usually have a repertoire of five or six moves that are all technically traveling. I don’t care if he is the president, I’d call him on it every time. I’d also help him come up with a better nickname. O’Bomber sounds like an Irish terrorist. How about Ted ”The Unobama” Kaczynski? Nah, that’s not much better.
3.) His name means “one who is blessed” in Swahili
I just looked it up, and “Griffin” means “hooked nose” in Latin. Which sounds disappointing until you consider this: “In Greek mythology and medieval legend, the Gryphon was a fierce creature with the foreparts of an eagle (hence the hooked nose) and the hindquarters of a lion.” I’m pretty sure Griffins ate a lot of people who thought they were blessed for dinner, which puts my name higher up on the food chain than “Barack,” which officially makes it better.
4.) His favourite meal is wife Michelle’s shrimp linguini
I bet his favorite meal is actually something his mom used to cook, but he’s way too smart to ever say that.
5.) He won a Grammy in 2006 for the audio version of his memoir, Dreams From My Father
Better than that, he beat out Bill Clinton’s audio book for it.
6.) He is left-handed – the sixth post-war president to be left-handed
What’s even more impressive is that he’s the very first African-American president to be left-handed. Just a little obscure presidential trivia for you.
7.) He has read every Harry Potter book
I got halfway through the first Lord of the Rings book and quit. More out of just not wanting to be the guy who reads Lord of the Rings books than anything else.
8.) He owns a set of red boxing gloves autographed by Muhammad Ali
I watched the first season of The Contender religiously. Then they moved it to ESPN, got rid of Sly Stallone, and basically ruined it.
9.) He worked in a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop as a teenager and now can’t stand ice cream
I worked at a mall as a teenager and now can’t stand shopping. True story.
10.) His favourite snacks are chocolate-peanut protein bars
150+ years ago, peanuts were a dominant American industry, fueled by the labor of black slaves. Now peanuts are just the crunchy filler in a black president’s post-workout snack routine. Take that, peanuts.
11.) He ate dog meat, snake meat, and roasted grasshopper while living in Indonesia
Probably just one of those weird coincidences, but every single one of those things makes me want to throw up.
12.) He can speak Spanish
I know how to ask where the library is.
13.) While on the campaign trail he refused to watch CNN and had sports channels on instead
CNN is like a 24-hour-a-day Entertainment Tonight. They somehow manage to stretch an hour of daily news into a full day by spending 90% of the airtime previewing the news they’re going to show you after the commercial break.
14.) His favourite drink is black forest berry iced tea
My favorite drink– via Jamba Juice– also sounds really, really gay.
15.) He promised Michelle he would quit smoking before running for president – he didn’t
I think John McCain would’ve gotten a lot of traction with this line of attack: ”Senator Obama’s campaign is fueled by nicotine and broken marital promises.”
16.) He kept a pet ape called Tata while in Indonesia
I kept a pet goldfish I named after my favorite Ninja Turtle. Sadly, Michelangelo passed after a short two-week bout with living in a child’s fishbowl.
17.) He can bench press an impressive 200lbs
Bush, on the other hand, maxxes out at 185. Oh, yes, America is back.
18.) He was known as Barry until university when he asked to be addressed by his full name
I was known as Griffy until university when I earned a ph.D. in Awesomology, converted briefly to Islam, was knighted by the Queen of England for some reason, and asked to be addressed by my full name: Sir Dr. Griffin Hussein Ohyeah!
19.) His favourite book is Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
This is where Barack and I part ways. I don’t like Moby, Dick, or Moby Dick. Dick Cheney, I mean. What were you thinking?
20.) He visited Wokingham, Berks, in 1996 for the stag party of his half-sister’s fiancé, but left when a stripper arrived
I don’t have any good stripper stories either.
21.) His desk in his Senate office once belonged to Robert Kennedy
My desk at work has a coffee stain on it that looks like Scooter Libby.
22.) He and Michelle made $4.2 million (£2.7 million) last year, with much coming from sales of his books
I plan to make $4.2 million next year, with much of it coming from sales of my face on billboards.
23.) His favourite films are Casablanca and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
If Obama had that Facebook app that compares your movie interests to your friends, our compatibility would be at least 50% right now.
24.) He carries a tiny Madonna and child statue and a bracelet belonging to a soldier in Iraq for good luck
Won’t win him too many votes among the New York Yankee wives crowd. Or the pretentious British filmmaker crowd.
25.) He applied to appear in a black pin-up calendar while at Harvard but was rejected by the all-female committee.
This is hands down the funniest fun fact ever about Barack Obama. I can’t decide whether it’s because he applied to appear in a pin-up calendar or because he was rejected. Trying is funny, but so is failing.
26.) His favourite music includes Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Bach and The Fugees
I’d totally ask to borrow his iPod and then never give it back.
27.) He took Michelle to see the Spike Lee film Do The Right Thing on their first date
On Election Day, I painted Obama’s hope logo on a bunch of trash cans in my neighborhood, just in case. They weren’t needed.
28.) He enjoys playing Scrabble and poker
He only enjoys those games because he’s never played me.
29.) He doesn’t drink coffee and rarely drinks alcohol
Guess he’s too busy drinking black forest berry iced teas.
30.) He would have liked to have been an architect if he were not a politician
I would have liked to have been an alien robot that turns into a Toyota Prius if I were not a blogger. My name would be Douchebagimus Prime.
31.) As a teenager he took drugs including marijuana and cocaine
As a teenager, I once tried to eat three Big Macs in a row to impress my friends. I failed, and my friends weren’t impressed. That’s the downside of teenage peer pressure no one ever talks about.
32.) His daughters’ ambitions are to go to Yale before becoming an actress (Malia, 10) and to sing and dance (Sasha, 7)
Why would Malia want to go to a second-rate school like Yale when both her parents are Harvard alum? She’s young, she’ll learn.
33.) He hates the youth trend for trousers which sag beneath the backside
I hate the word “trousers.” And the word “backside.” Really, the only word that’s saving that sentence is “sag.” Sag, sag, sag. Good word.
34.) He repaid his student loan only four years ago after signing his book deal
I really, really hope this will be a fun fact about me four years from now.
35.) His house in Chicago has four fire places
I’d settle for one. House, I mean.
36.) Daughter Malia’s godmother is Jesse Jackson’s daughter Santita
I’m distantly related to Michael Jackson through marriage. Sort of. True story. Sort of.
37.) He says his worst habit is constantly checking his BlackBerry
My worst habit is never checking my e-mail. Go ahead, e-mail me and see if I’m lying.
38.) He uses an Apple Mac laptop
39.) He drives a Ford Escape Hybrid, having ditched his gas-guzzling Chrysler 300
That’s some outstanding automobile pandering right there.
40.) He wears $1,500 (£952) Hart Schaffner Marx suits
41.) He owns four identical pairs of black size 11 shoes
Why can’t Obama close the deal with white shoes?
42.) He has his hair cut once a week by his Chicago barber, Zariff, who charges $21 (£13)
I think it’s time for Zariff to ask for a raise. Or a reality show.
43.) His favourite fictional television programmes are Mash and The Wire
I hate the way British people spell. Love The Wire though.
44.) He was given the code name “Renegade” by his Secret Service handlers
As up as Barack is on hip-hop, there’s no doubt in my mind he got this name from the Jay-Z and Eminem song from a few years back. Also, last year, he kind of let it slip to a supporter on a rope line that he listens to Eminem, before catching himself mid-sentence (“…although he curses sometimes.”). And seeing as how Barack is a writer, I’d be shocked if he doesn’t have a few verses of his own tucked away in a drawer somewhere. Coolest. President. Ever.
45.) He was nicknamed “Bar” by his late grandmother
That reminds me of an old joke. Okay, so two presidential candidates– a former first lady and a former POW– walk into a Bar. They lose.
46.) He plans to install a basketball court in the White House grounds
To be torn down immediately in 2016 by President Jindal.
47.) His favourite artist is Pablo Picasso
48.) His speciality as a cook is chilli
Remember that episode of The Simpsons when Homer entered a chili cook-off and ate that super hot Guatemalan chilli pepper and then went on a hallucinogenic journey to find his soul mate? That was a great episode.
49.) He has said many of his friends in Indonesia were “street urchins”
I went through a phase as a kid where I watched Aladdin every day for, like, a month.
50.) He keeps on his desk a carving of a wooden hand holding an egg, a Kenyan symbol of the fragility of life
I keep on my desk a bottle of water, an American symbol of putting capitalism and convenience before environmental concerns. I also drink from it when I’m thirsty. It’s really convenient.
51.) His late father was a senior economist for the Kenyan government
How’d his father get an important government job like that with a name like Barack Hussein Obama, Sr.?