Our new first lady is the "frank" to her husband's "earnest." Here's her recollection of the underwhelming impression he left during their first date (they went to see Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing") as told to their Chicago neighborhood newspaper, the

Hyde Park Herald

:

"He had no money; he was really broke. He wasn't ever going to try to impress me with things," Michelle Obama said. "His wardrobe was kind of cruddy. His first car had so much rust that there was a rusted hole in the passenger door. You could see the ground when you were driving. He loved that car. It would shake ferociously when it would start up.

"I thought, 'This brother is not interested in ever making a dime.' "

The two would, of course, marry. Good thing for second impressions.

The future Mrs. Obama was born Michelle LaVaughn Robinson on Jan. 17, 1964, growing up on Chicago's South Side.

Her mother, Marian, was a homemaker and bank secretary, and her father, the late Fraser Robinson, was a pump operator for Chicago's water department and also served as a Democratic precinct captain.

Michelle's big brother, Craig, was a hoops star for Princeton in the '80s who now coaches basketball at Oregon State University.

Michelle was always a good student - she skipped second grade - and was on the honor roll for four years of high school at Chicago's Whitney Young Charter School. She received her undergraduate degree from Princeton and wrote a thesis titled "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community."

(She was no affirmative-action baby. According to Newsweek, she had an edge getting into the Ivy League school because her brother was a scholar-athlete there. That made her a "legacy" applicant, just like any other student with family ties to the school.)

She graduated from Harvard Law School and worked at the prestigious Sidley Austin firm in Chicago, which is where she met her future husband, who was working there as a summer associate.

She initially refused to date Barack Obama, thinking it would be "tacky" because they were "the only two black people" at the firm. (Actually, there were others, but she hadn't noticed them.)

She began working for the city of Chicago before heading up Public Allies, a nonprofit group that promotes public-service careers. In 1996, she became an associate dean of students at the University of Chicago, and by 2002 had moved into hospital administration. She was named vice president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals in 2005.

When Barack was elected to the Senate, the working mom stayed in Chicago with their two daughters, Malia, now 10, and Sasha, 7.

There were ups and downs for the future first lady during her husband's long race to the White House. Being called a "baby mama" by Fox News was a low point. (The network later apologized.) But bringing down the house at the 2008 Democratic National Convention was a high. *

- Jenice Armstrong