I’m no body language expert but I know loathing when I see it.
The videos of the hand slap and this later evasive move could replace all the words in the dictionary definition of loathing.
loathing 1. strong dislike mingled with disgust; intense aversion. 2. physical disgust, as for food. (The American College Dictionary 1962)
One doesn’t contemplate loathing. One doesn’t decide whether to loathe someone or something. It’s a reflex. It’s an automatic “Don’t touch me!” unmediated by circumstance or cameras. Involuntary.
That’s what I see with Melania Trump. She is always aware of her space and allows no unauthorized encroachment. If physical contact hasn’t been negotiated ahead of time, her reflex is to bat it away. She isn’t easy and free and at home with her relationship with her husband like we have seen with other first couples, most memorably Barack and Michelle Obama whose affection for each other cheered us all the time. Joy is contagious.
I don’t feel sorry for Melania. She’s not a captive and she’s not stupid. She could charter a plane this very minute and fly back to New York, hole up in her penthouse and order bagels with diamonds every day of the week. If it wasn’t for the shame it might bring her son, she probably would do just that. She’s rich enough a hundred times over. But I conjecture. I don’t know what she would do.
I’m lucky to have never been in this situation. Oh, I’ve fallen out of love with people, not wanted to be very close to them anymore. So I get that. When feelings die, the familiar becomes foreign, the easy becomes awkward and forced. But it’s a long road from awkward to visceral disgust and I never went more than a couple of blocks. But, then, I never stayed with someone I couldn’t stand. It seemed a bad idea.
My mother used to say that ‘no one knows what’s in a marriage except the people in it.’ I forget what motivated her to make this proclamation, not once but many times. The adage made everyone’s marriage exotic and secret and probably better than it appeared to the general public. Oh, that couple looks really miserable, I would think, watching them squabble in the grocery line, but they’re probably really happy in secret. Because, you know, ‘no one knows what’s in a marriage except the people in it.”
So I am compelled to give the Trumps the same consideration. They might have public fusses but private bliss. All I know is that I never disliked a husband or a lover so much that the very movement of the air caused by him moving his hand toward me would make me whip my hand away. I’ve never had the reflex of loathing someone and I guess that makes me a lucky person.
Melania Trump should be so lucky.