When I got up this morning, I was surprised to see that a dozen or so people had urgently e-mailed me videos of the now very famous Melania Trump slap, delivered to the President on an Israeli runway yesterday and recorded by an Israeli journalist.
It is already the world's most famous slap and is being discussed, de-constructed and analyzed by many millions of people. It is a being called the slap heard round the world. In our very curious world, most Americans will know little or nothing today of what is likely to happen to their health care, but every single one will know about Melania's Slap, now being called the Melania Slap.
Maria and I don't talk politics all that much during farm chores, but this morning, I asked her to stage a re-enactment of the slap with me as we finished shoveling manure out of the barn. She was happy to do it, even as we scraped donkey droppings off of our shoes (it was very unlike the Trumps).
Then we both analyzed what we thought was really happening. I held up the original video on my Iphone and walked to the gate, and we took some care to duplicate the positions of the President and First Lady. I walked just ahead of her, then turned, just as in the video, and reached out for her hand.
Maria did not balk or make fun of me for asking, she took it seriously, as I did.
Maria seemed to grasp the whole thing quickly, which was a bit disturbing. She slapped my hand away, quickly and confidently, and said "get away." That, she said, is what happened. "She was telling him to get away. No doubt about it."
The Melania Slap was really a flick, not an actual slap. I watched it a dozen times.
A flick of the wrist, quick, effective and to the point. "Ouch," I said when I saw it, imagining what it might mean if Maria flicked my hand away like that, since we often hold hands, even when walking across the lawn.
"Ouch," I said, when Maria slapped my hand away. The meaning was unmistakable to me. And she seemed quite familiar with the gesture, as if telling men to get away was not in the least a rare or unusual thing, even on an airport runway with thousands of cameras pointed.
I ought to say that I make a faith out of not minding other people's business. But since thousands of people mind mine, perhaps I ought to jump into the water.
I also want to say this slap business has no bearing whatsoever on whether Donald Trump ought to be President Of the United States or is doing a good job. I approach this story as a man married to a strong and proud woman, and as an amateur social anthropologist curious to decipher what this video means and is really about.
This is not about the left or the right, it is about marriage and relationships, perhaps the most fascinating subject on the earth.
In the interests of fairness and honesty – we do not practice fake news here – I also need to say that I have no idea what Mrs. Trump is actually intending to do here. Was her husband urging her to catch up? Wanting to take her hand? Seeking to answer all of those numerous reports that they are not a close couple? That she is a trophy wife who secretly can't stand him or be close to him?
It is almost inconceivable to me that she is dissing him in front of the whole world, but it is also true that her gesture had both clarity and conviction. She was defining her boundaries, and they were not negotiable, even then.
I have no answers, I am only in it for the gossip.
(Here might be a good time to link to a sight explaining humor, we have had issues with this before, when I poked fun at a famous book pig and fantasized about eating her at brunch one Sunday. Humour – British spelling – is the cognitive tendency to provoke laughter or amusement.
Humor was once widely practiced in America, even used in political speeches and in political campaigns, but was banned in recent years by both the left and the right as being irreverent and unacceptable.)
Shame on me for even writing about this, I suppose I ought to apologize, but I couldn't get it out of my mind this morning, and our re-enactment cranked me up even more. This was more fun than shoveling manure. Although now that I think about it, maybe it is just another form of the same thing.
Maria's theory of the Melania Slap – as a woman, she is better qualified than me to comment on this, was that Melania was so quick and practiced at this that she had done this before. She was clearly telling Mr. Trump to get away, and not try to touch her or take her hand. There was no doubt or ambivalence about the movement, she said.
I should point out that Maria is not overly fond of men. When we met, she had a fierce and protective dog – Frieda – and the name I gave Frieda was the "dog who kept men away." Much of our first year together was highlighted by Frieda wanting to eat me alive, and Maria chuckling good-naturedly at the idea. "Oh," she would say when Frieda would snarl at me, or run me out of the barn, frothing at the mouth, "I just love that dog so much."
So it seems natural to her that Melania would slap her husband's unwanted hand away. What else would you do with men?
My idea is similar to Maria's, with some differences. My sense of the relationship is that there is a contract there. Mrs. Trump will appear in public and they will pretend to be a devoted couple, but when they are together, I almost get a chill at the frosty space between them. Just looking at the photos makes my breath frost up.
There is no warmth and chemistry as I often see between couples that are close, including, hopefully Maria and me.
I think touching and public displays of affection are clearly not part of their contract, or we would occasionally see them connecting to one another. She does her job, she keeps her bargain, but no more.
There is some nudging, even prodding, but nothing I would call warm touching or connection.
I admit to being fascinated by the Melania Slap, it is much more compelling than any of the awful things being done in Washington. Your theory is as good as mine. If you have one, please be good enough to share it on my Facebook Page.
Blessings to you. I hope you are smiling. If not, please tell someone else about it.