'Michel, Michelle': A Host's Existential Crisis In her weekly commentary, host Michel Martin explains her frustration at often being compared to others with the same name, such as first lady Michelle Obama.
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'Michel, Michelle': A Host's Existential Crisis

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'Michel, Michelle': A Host's Existential Crisis

'Michel, Michelle': A Host's Existential Crisis

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(Soundbite of music)

MICHEL MARTIN, host:

Finally, on a very different note. I have a bone to pick with Michelle Obama. It is not that I think she's too outspoken or too assertive, whatever that means. I don't. It's not that I think she's playing it too safe as First Lady. I don't. It's that, well, she's making it tough out here for the rest of us Michelles. I mean really. She's taking me back to elementary school where there was something like six of us in my class.

Everywhere you turned there was another Michelle or Michele, or Rachelle for the teacher to confuse you with. That was also, mind you, the era of that Beatles song, which despite the fact that it won the Grammy for Song of the Year in 1967 or maybe because of it is in my view one of the single most annoying songs ever recorded.

I mean you couldn't meet a grownup with any hipster credentials after a while without him or her trying to sing it to you badly, so annoying. Well then thankfully that died down and other people with names like Taylor and McKenzie and Jennifer had to go through it and I had the Michel field to myself for a whole.

Of course, there were my years at ABC News after my friend Michele Norris came along. But then we worked on different shows at different times of day for different anchors. We pronounce our names differently, plus she's gorgeous so if anybody ever confused her work with mine I just say oh well, thank you.

Then, of course, I followed her here to NPR where we are both now show hosts. But again, her show is on something like 50 million stations so if anybody does confuse us, I don't know what she says. I just say, you know, that is so kind of you.

But can I just tell you? This whole having a first lady with the same name thing, this is a whole other level of existentialist crisis. Everywhere I turn I think I'm hearing my name. It's like being in the kid's section of Target. Every time you hear Mommy, you can't help yourself. You have to turn around even if your own kids are standing right there.

Plus, that other Michelle, we have too many things in common. I was at the gas station the other day. I thought I looked you know rather smart wearing one of my cute wide belts and one of my neighbors pulled up and she said, oh you're rocking Michelle's style. What? Excuse me; I have been wearing cute belts for the longest time, thank you very much.

And then I made the mistake of asking another one of my neighbors for help getting my compost pile started and what did she say? Oh you're starting a garden like Michelle. Excuse me; I have been growing my own herbs for years now. Can I help it I happen to be trying to take it up a notch at the same time the first lady moves to a place with a growing season longer than two months?

Maybe this is what happens when you become in. I've never been in. Being out has had its advantages though. My husband and I bought our home in a lovely diverse neighborhood of Washington at a time when many of our friends were involved in bidding wars for their houses. No bidding war for us I believe because our neighborhood, as great as it is, is not one of the ones that gets written about in the Style section.

When I found out I was pregnant with my twins I interviewed the doctors that were on all the lists in the magazines, but I ended up with the most wonderful physician with a modest office in a modest townhouse. But he was one of the best, most attentive, most thoughtful and dedicated professionals I've ever worked with.

President Obama said in an interview connected with the NAACP centennial, that black folks can and should embrace a wider definition of what it means to be black but that one thing should remain at its core, an appreciation of what it means to be on the outside - and that makes sense to me. It's interesting to see how disorienting it is when you finally see if not yourself but an image of yourself on the inside.

(Soundbite of music)

MARTIN: And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

(Soundbite of song "Michelle")

The BEATLES: (Singing) Michelle, ma belle. These are words that go together well, my Michelle. Michelle, ma belle. Sont des mots qui vont trés bien ensemble. Trés bien ensemble. I love you, I love you, I love you. That's all I want to say. Until I find a way...

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