Some couples hug and kiss. Some like Barack and Michelle Obama even serve up the occasional high-five or fist-bump. But one of the most closely watched pairings in the world, Donald Trump and wife Melania, enjoy more formal public displays of affection like handshakes.
At an event held at an army base in Maryland, the President thanked his wife after she introduced him by shaking her hand and motioning for her to sit down.
“It’s my great pleasure to introduce my husband, the President of the United States Donald Trump,” a uncharacteristically upbeat Melania said as she warmed up the crowd of servicemen and women.
“Thank you, you go sit down,” Trump beamed as he pumped Melania’s hand while a number of troops behind the couple smirked.
Melania, usually cool, calm and collected when performing her FLOTUS duties, appeared stunned. A warranted reaction considering she is now just another statistic. The New Yorker once estimated a sitting president shakes an average of 65,000 hands a year.
The internet was amused by the odd interaction.
…and then Melania ran off the stage, screaming for hand sanitizer. I can’t imagine having ever been that desperate for a green card.
— Norah Jane (@NorahJane10) September 16, 2017
And also confused.
my husband and I just shook hands goodnight just to try it and OMG IT IS SO WEIRD!!!! WTH?!?!?
— Megan Mak. (@meggitymak) September 16, 2017
Some mourned for the greatest love story the White House has ever seen.
While it’s a rather unusual form of expression employed by a couple, this sanitised display reads like a play from the conservative rule book for relationships.
When he’s not dodging invitations which may force him dine in the company of women other than his wife, Vice President Mike Pence reportedly calls his partner Karen, “Mother”.
Trump though is a well-documented “germaphobe” who prefers to live on a strict diet of fast food due to its supposed cleanliness.
“One bad hamburger, you can destroy McDonald’s,” he once told CNN.
“I’m a very clean person. I like cleanliness, and I think you’re better off going there than maybe some place that you have no idea where the food’s coming from. It’s a certain standard.”
Regardless of the dish, he usually eats take away with a knife and fork, which, despite clogging the arteries, saves his hands and alleviates stress on the immune system.
But if there’s one thing Trump hates more than terrorists, universal health care and women’s reproductive rights, it’s shaking hands.
A phobia that was documented in The World According to Trump by Ken Lawrence: “I’m not a big fan of the hand shake. I think it’s barbaric. I mean, they have medical reports all the time. Shaking hands, you catch colds, you catch the flu, you catch this. You catch all sorts of things. Who knows what you don’t catch?”
His handshake with his wife was seen as unorthodox by commentators on Twitter but he risked transferring bacteria with her. Romance may be dead by chivalry isn’t in Trumpland.