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A Definitive Ranking of Donald Trump's Handshakes

From Kind of Awkward to Simply Unbearable

By Sam Eichner ·
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On Thursday, President Trump met with French President Emmanuel Macron. He greeted the first lady, Brigitte Macron, thusly:

Jesus. Let’s see that one more time:

The shoulder grab. The over-aggressive bisou. The unnecessary post-bisou hand- clasp-turned-yank. The feeling of panic and discomfort in the body language of an otherwise poised woman. One imagines the French public watching this exchange, a Gauloise dangling between their wine-stained lips, muttering the word merde under their breath, or scrambling to cover young Jean-Louis’s eyes.

Certainly, this is one of Trump’s most unbearable handshakes. But where does it rank next to his other unbearable handshakes, of which there are far too many?

Herewith: a definitive ranking of Donald Trump’s handshakes, from mildly awkward to frighteningly discomfiting.

7. The Canadian Resistance



You might not notice anything irregular in this shake. But if you look closely, you can see Trump trying to pull Trudeau towards him with his signature grab-and-jerk. Trudeau holds firm and resists with aplomb, smiling through the pain. There is a Canada joke in here somewhere.

Hey, who said Canadians were afraid of the dark?

Nope. That’s not it.

6. The Chrisening



Skip to about 1:27 in this video. You have the initial long pumps (four in total) followed by about six micro pumps. Note that Trump is in control the entire time here. Christie is sort of just resigned to it. Taking the pumps. Waiting for it all to be over. Any minute now. I’m officially grossing myself out.

5. Defending Our Second Amendment Right to Pull Arms



This is it. The signature grab-and-jerk, plus a little pat-pat as a cherry on top, like a mother kissing her child’s boo-boo. Notice how Trump pulls Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch off-balance, and how Gorsuch has to steady himself by touching the underside of Trump’s hand. There is an obvious clamoring for control here; Trump is attempting to assert his dominance, but in the most undignified way possible. One presumes he’s overcompensating for his hand size.

4. Never Let You Go



I’m under the impression that what we’re seeing here between Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May is the aftermath of a handshake during which Trump refused to let go, thus resulting in a full-on seventh-grade hand-holding sesh outside of the Oval Office. Here is what I imagine must be going through Theresa May’s head throughout the exchange:

Oh goodness me—why is he still holding my hand?

Heavens no. This simply won’t do.

I have to let go. I will let go now.

But what if he grabs me back? That will only make it worse!

How do I quote-unquote Brexit from this predicament?

Oh Theresa, what sharp wit you have!

Why has the man just underhand tapped the back of my hand? Has he gone mad?

Well, I guess it’s better than if he underhand slapped my arse.

Hummdidleedum shepard’s pie, shepard’s pie.

3. The Merkel No-Shake



Imagine you’re not you, but instead German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Have you made that mental leap? Good. Now, you—Angela Merkel—have come all this way to meet with a buffoon who has accused you of ruining the country you run. A reporter suggests a handshake—you know, for a photograph. Standard operating procedure. And being German, you respect SOP.

In your head, though, you know this is going to be bad. You’ve watched the footage; you’ve seen the hands. Tiny. Clammy. Slick with fast food grease. But then: no hand comes. You turn your head as if to motion for a hand but the hand never comes. The hand. Never. Comes. The man is staring straight ahead, oblivious. You feel your face turning red. Why is this happening to you? Why couldn’t you have just stayed home, ordered schnitzel and watched The Great British Baking Show? Why oh why are you here?

You think: Fuck my life.

2. The French Connection

I’m putting Macron’s Misery at number two. For the sake of your health and well-being, however, I will not force you to re-watch the video.

1. The Handshake Felt ‘Round the World



Trump’s handshake with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, by the numbers:

19: total seconds of shaking.

2: separate top-hand pats.

3: little pats per top-hand pat.

2: times Trump jerks Abe towards him.

2-3: polite yet uncomfortable smiles from Abe.

1: shit-eating grin prior to handshake, as if Trump is thinking to himself: “I am going to shake the FUCK out of this guy’s hand.”

1: comment from Trump re: the PM’s “strong hands,” which is the handshaking equivalent of someone telling you after sex, “nice cock.”

5: times I watched this for the purpose of this article.

1,000,000: reasons to believe things will never be right with the world ever again. 

Sam Eichner likes literature, reality television and his twin cats equally. He has consistently been told he needs a shave since he started growing facial hair.

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