16 Revelations About Young Barack Obama From His Ex-Girlfriends

The President was quite the paramour. From the Vanity Fair article excerpting the upcoming book by David Maraniss, Becoming Obama. Here are the most revealing moments from the letters and journals of two of Barack Obama's girlfriends from the early '80s, Alex McNear and Genevieve Cook, when the young Columbia grad was struggling to find his way in New York City.

1. Interesting In A Particular Way

Alex McNear Reflects On Meeting Young Barry Obama:

"He was interesting in a very particular way. He really worked his way through an idea or question, turned it over, looked at it from all sides, and then he came to a precise and elegant conclusion."

2. A Date With Barry

Alex McNear On Her First Date With Barack Obama:

"We sat and talked and ate and drank wine. Or at least I drank wine. I think he drank something stronger. It was one of those dark, old Italian restaurants that don’t exist in New York anymore. It was the kind of place where they leave you alone. I remember thinking how happy I felt just talking to him, that I could talk to him for hours. We walked slowly back to my apartment, on 90th, and said good-bye. After that we started spending much more time together."

3. Using Poetry To Woo Women

Obama In A Letter To McNear:

"I haven’t read 'The Waste Land' for a year, and I never did bother to check all the footnotes. But I will hazard these statements — Eliot contains the same ecstatic vision which runs from Münzer to Yeats. However, he retains a grounding in the social reality/order of his time. Facing what he perceives as a choice between ecstatic chaos and lifeless mechanistic order, he accedes to maintaining a separation of asexual purity and brutal sexual reality."

4. Bourgeois Liberalism

Obama In A Letter To McNear:

"Remember how I said there’s a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism — (T.S.) Eliot is of this type."

5. Staying In Shape (GTL)

Obama In A Letter To McNear:

"I run every other day at the small indoor track (at Columbia) which slants slightly upward like a plate; I stretch long and slow, twist and shake, the fatigue, the inertia finding home in different parts of the body. I check the time and growl — aargh! — and tumble onto the wheel. And bodies crowd and give off heat, some people are in front and you can hear the patter or plod of the steps behind."

6. The Brooding Outsider

Obama In a Letter To McNear:

"Caught without a class, a structure, or tradition to support me, in a sense the choice to take a different path is made for me. The only way to assuage my feelings of isolation are to absorb all the traditions (and) classes; make them mine, me theirs."

7. The Hook Up Master

Genevieve Cook, On Her First Date With Obama After Meeting At A Party:

"I’m pretty sure we had dinner maybe the Wednesday after. I think maybe he cooked me dinner. Then we went and talked in his bedroom. And then I spent the night. It all felt very inevitable."

8. Where The Magic Happens

From The Journal Of Genevieve Cook:

"I open the door, that Barack keeps closed, to his room, and enter into a warm, private space pervaded by a mixture of smells that so strongly speak of his presence, his liveliness, his habits — running sweat, Brut spray deodorant, smoking, eating raisins, sleeping, breathing."

9. The Shirtless Intellectual

From The Vanity Fair Article:

"(Cook) remembered how on Sundays Obama would lounge around, drinking coffee and solving the New York Times crossword puzzle, bare-chested, wearing a blue and white sarong."

10. Luscious Ladies

From The Journal Of Genevieve Cook:

"Today, for the first time, Barack sat on the edge of the bed — dressed — blue jeans and luscious ladies on his chest [a comfy T-shirt depicting buxom women], the end of the front section of the Sunday Times in his hand, looking out the window, and the quality of light reflected from his eyes, windows of the soul, heart, and mind, was so clear, so unmasked, his eyes narrower than he usually holds them looking out the window, usually too aware of me."

11. Sexual Warmth, Coolness

From The Journal Of Genevieve Cook:

"The sexual warmth is definitely there — but the rest of it has sharp edges and I’m finding it all unsettling and finding myself wanting to withdraw from it all. I have to admit that I am feeling anger at him for some reason, multi-stranded reasons. His warmth can be deceptive. Tho he speaks sweet words and can be open and trusting, there is also that coolness — and I begin to have an inkling of some things about him that could get to me."

12. The Woman He Loved

From "Dreams Of My Father," Obama Reflects On Genevieve Cook:

"There was a woman in New York that I loved. She was white. She had dark hair, and specks of green in her eyes. Her voice sounded like a wind chime. We saw each other for almost a year. On the weekends, mostly. Sometimes in her apartment, sometimes in mine. You know how you can fall into your own private world? Just two people, hidden and warm. Your own language. Your own customs. That’s how it was."

13. Poker Face

From The Journal Of Genevieve Cook:

"It’s not a question of my wanting to probe ancient pools of emotional trauma … but more a sense of you (Barack) biding your time and drawing others’ cards out of their hands for careful inspection — without giving too much of your own away — played with a good poker face."

"Barack — still intrigues me, but so much going on beneath the surface, out of reach. Guarded, controlled."

14. Smooth Operator

Obama's Response To Genevieve Cook When She Said "I Love You":

"Thank you."

15. The Ideal Woman

From The Journal Of Genevieve Cook:

"I can’t help thinking that what he would really want, be powerfully drawn to, was a woman, very strong, very upright, a fighter, a laugher, well-­experienced—a black woman I keep seeing her as."

16. Hope And Change

From The Journal Of Genevieve Cook:

"He talked quite a lot about discontent in a quiet sort of way — balancing the tendency to be always the observer, how to effect change..."

See a photo of Genevieve Cook here.