A Guy In a Room

I once worked with an actress who couldn’t walk six feet without doing an exaggerated showgirl sashay. One night I watched her execute a simple cross from the door of a building to a car, a cross that she turned into a miniature production number — wrists out, hips swinging, head tossing. I remember turning to another writer on the show and whispering: “Right there? That’s why our ratings are crap. Nobody can relate to her because she can’t even walk across a sidewalk like a person.”

I frequently think something similar about Trump. God knows there are deeper failings to criticize than his body language, but how many images like this have you seen? Ones where he just doesn’t look quite right in the setting, doesn’t exactly know what to do with his hands, or where to settle his eyes, or in which he’s doing some weird grippy power-play-by-handshake ritual? He doesn’t relate to people in anything approaching a normal human fashion. He doesn’t seem to know how to just be a guy in a room.

I know, I know: He has no visible empathy, and that spells Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and now we’re a nation of amateur shrinks. So let’s say maybe he has it, or something like it, and maybe he doesn’t. But he damn sure is awkward and strange. He lacks some pretty basic human tools.

Imagine that. Imagine being so very bad at human-ing that you can’t even stand in a room without looking weird. Imagine that’s your experience of life. Now think about how damaged you have to be, being that guy, to casually upend the lives of 800,000 definitionally law-abiding and upward-striving people because they look different than you do.

There’s irony, and then there’s whatever this is — deeper than irony, vastly colder, and unimaginably crueler.

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