At the beginning of this year, absolutely no-one would publish this semi-fictional piece I wrote on the sexism of Donald Trump. If they don’t believe me now, will they ever believe me?
An Encounter with Donald Trump
A billionaire to a young boy is like a first billion to a billionaire. It’s exciting, it’s new, and it doesn’t matter how it happened or where it came from, it’s there, even if ‘it’ is Republican candidate Donald Trump.
When I was about 12, my family took an overseas trip. My father was shooting a documentary in Israel, so my mother, older brother, younger sister and I decided finally to do the big adventure we had discussed for years. We went to Europe, to Ireland, to England, and then finally to New York, where this story is based.
Having not been back since, I couldn’t say if this remains the same, but New York reminded me the most of Australia in comparison to all the other places I’d visited. The majority of the city was concrete, there was some sort of unnecessary food shop every two metres, and people, for the most part, kept to themselves. I had a good time there. I ate the maple syrup breakfasts, the strange processed foods, I played baseball in Central Park to celebrate my sisters birthday. It was a fun time for a 12 year old, and I felt more comfortable than I ever had during the trip. So, I was sad to leave, but we did. We had to go back to primary school and finish off those absolutely mundane 7 years. I was the School Captain after all, I had serious business to attend to.
At JFK airport we were taking a short plane ride to England, then swapping to a 23 hour horror of a trip back to Sydney. I don’t remember too much of JFK. At the time it was just another of the twenty or so airports I’d already been dragged through over these few months abroad, my short stumpy legs in shorts flailing to keep up, my bag full of souvenirs and dirty clothes. But one thing about waiting in JFK airport has recently come back to slap me, something I didn’t brood on too much at the time but which is now haunting me. I met Donald Trump.
We were sitting in those uncomfortable rows of carpeted chairs waiting for our flight to be called, when from down the long hallway of the airport there was some sort of commotion. It wasn’t anything too outrageous of course; God forbid anyone start screaming and hollering in an airport without fear of detainment or death. But there was a movement; something in the air that told me everyone was looking where I was. There was a man in a blue suit and red tie walking towards me, surrounded by similarly attired men and some tourists snapping occasional photographs or speaking a few words to the man. He stopped about ten metres away from me to shake hands with a woman holding a baby, lingering on her fingertips and smiling as he waited hopefully for someone to take a photograph. In the seats next to me my mother and older brother were talking close together, mother with usual exaggerated hand movements and my brother desperately trying to understand what was going on. I leant towards them.
“Who is it?” I said.
Mother leaned over to me.
“His name is Donald Trump. He’s from a wealthy, famous background. He’s a billionaire.”
I turned back, astonished, to look at the man, my brother glaring at me in anger for trying to understand something so grown up when he was obviously the more mature son. I was quite fascinated sitting there in my corduroy shorts, slip on shoes and tourist t-shirt I had bought in Rome. I didn’t care what this mans name was, or who his family was, but my God! A billionaire, a real life billionaire. To my juvenile mind this was enough to provoke in me an interest, and a reason to keep staring as Mr Billionaire Trump moved closer. Now of course this was before he decided to play the cruellest practical joke in decades and run for President, he wasn’t even on The Apprentice at this point. In fact, he’d just recently experienced his fourth corporate bankruptcy, resulting in numerous lawsuits and legal matters that brought to light his business antics and terrible money management that somehow earned him more. So he was a well know public figure at the time.
Although this is blurry in my mind as it happened around 6 years ago, I do remember thinking how odd Trump looked walking towards me. For someone so wealthy, you would think he could afford better suits, and if not a professional stylist at least a mirror. His hair was more ridiculous than ever, slightly spiked at the back, a result I now understand being due to just coming off a ten hour flight from God-knows-where. His eyes were tired, his plastered smile was obviously beginning to hurt, and although everyone in the airport was ignoring it, he carried with him the stale smell of novelty sized airplane alcohol. Despite this, he was trying desperately to behave appropriately for the people around him. If he hadn’t then who knows, he may never of made it to where he is today. If only…..
Despite his looking ridiculous, I still held in the back of my mind an excitement that a billionaire was walking towards me, that I had the possibility of meeting a billionaire. My God! I just had to. My mother had always lectured me on regret, how if I didn’t try the Italian coffee, or didn’t climb up higher to see the changing of the Queens Guard, I would regret it as soon as I got back into my cosy little bed in Sydney. Well this was one of those moments. No regrets.
A little line of people had formed down the aisle of seats like a demented press meeting, Trump slowly moving down it and greeting people. My brother and I ran to join the end of the line. The excitement was obviously getting to my younger sister, who pleaded to stay behind and crawled into my mothers arms.
Trump dawdled his way down the line, shaking hands and moving, shaking hands and moving, until eventually he reached my brother. My brother didn’t say a word, he just took the sandpaper hand and smiled up at this strange creature. Neither he nor I knew who Trump really was, nor would we have ever guessed he would’ve caused so much misery and hatred these past few months. To us, in that moment, he was famous, and we just wanted to shake his hand. So now he came to me. I took his hand as he extended it.
“Hello.” Trump said, in that strange half nasal, half Dracula tone of voice. “What’s your name?”
I told him, and he congratulated me on having such a nice name. Of course he was impressed, his name is Donald after all. His eyes briefly glanced behind me, his hand still over mine, not really shaking it but firmly gripping it in place. In fact, that’s what I remember most clearly about the encounter; his leathery hands on mine, like he was holding me there, like I was on a leash. It soon changed from an exciting moment to a terrifying one as he did this. I pulled slightly to get away. But he didn’t let go. I think he somehow found me interesting to the intense dismay of my brother and the confusion of everyone else waiting in this ridiculous line. I soon learned why he was spending more time with me as he brought his eyes back from over my head to meet my gaze.
“Is that your mother over there?” he said.
I looked back at her watching us with my sister in her arms, smiling but visibly confused as to why the attention was suddenly on her.
I was confused as well at the time as to how he knew my mother was my mother. But the resemblance between all in my family has always been quite remarkable, and it was due to this that he probably guessed. Although, I’m still shocked a man of his intelligence could put two and two together like that.
Suddenly, Trump let go of my hand and turned to one of his suited friends next to him. He said something in a whisper, and all I can recall is the words ‘of that’. Then he turned back to me.
“You’re a lucky kid.” He said, and winked.
I didn’t know what the hell had happened, but I could taste something sinister, even at my young age. I watched after Trump as he moved down the line and was pulled away before he could finish by his suited friends to a different part of the airport. Back at the seats, my mother and brother talked about what had happened, she equally as confused as we all were, but slightly more upset. I was too young then to fully realise Trump had objectified my mother in front of me, but on reflection in later years, it seems to make perfect sense. Trump is a known racist, womaniser and alcoholic, and my mother was just another passing object of his airport-drunk bigotry.
This story has been shared with close friends by my mother, some of them not even willing to believe her. But even if some of the events and sequences have been distorted in my mind in those six years past, I still recall the state of total confusion, the stale scotch, and the utter hatred I felt at Trump when he walked away from me that day, a hatred I still hold now. I think my mother may have snapped a photograph of the incident, but it would be buried in a dark corner of Apples database by now. So, if the memory is confused and the facts messy, I apologise, but I know two things quite assuredly; I saw Trump and I was angry. And if you watch closely enough when he rallies his hick forces at stadiums and causes an uproar, spreading worldwide hatred, you can still see him eyeing a young woman in the front row, and the poor, sad boy next to him ready to start the cycle again…
Oliver P. Clarke