You may recall my account of the first Trump/Putin meeting (When Donald Met Vladimir; March 8, 2016). I had hoped to follow up with a similar report on their July 16, 2018 tete-a-tete in Helsinki, but its format, with only the two of them, plus two translators, has made the task of verbatim reporting especially difficult. In addition, the meeting took a very unusual turn, leaving me no alternative to occasional interpretation, indicated by parentheses:
Shall we sit?
Well, Donald, it’s two years since we met in New York City and I … What the hell …!? What are you doing? Donald, please, please, get your hand off my knee! And don’t climb on my lap!
(Ambiguous sound — perhaps hands and knees — falling to the floor; sound of apparent pacing and heavy panting.)
Donald, are you all right? Donald? Donald, speak to …
(Whispered) Oh fuck! He must think the chandelier is the moon. Now he’s licking my hand! (Aloud) Donald! Stop it! Behave! Sit! Sit!
(A soft rustling sound, followed by a rhythmic thump, thump, thump on the floor.)
This is crazy. I need to walk around a bit. No … no … not you! Stay! Stay! I said stay, dammit! Oh shit … he’s humping my leg … Down! Get down! (To Translators) One of you, get him off me! And you, do something useful and get a bowl of water! Maybe a drink will distract him … or we could douse him … one or the other might settle him down.
(Sound of someone leaving, returning, setting something on the floor, and water being lapped up.)
That’s done the trick. That’s a good Donald … gooooood Donald. Yes, yes, close your eyes and rest.
(Long period of relative silence, with the sound of relaxed breathing, interrupted by an occasional yip. Then an unmistakable yawn.)
Ah, Donald, I see we are finally waking up. Did we have good nappies? We must have been dreaming. Good dreams, I hope. Come here. Yes, come here and … Oh, double, triple shit! He’s peeing on the carpet! Quick, you two, find something to blot it up! We have a press conference in a few minutes! You’ve got nothing? Well, then use his goddam red tie to clean it! And tie it back on him when you’re done! No one will notice. But hurry!
(Indistinct cleaning and tie-retying sounds.)
There there, that’s all taken care of! Are we ready for our press conference now? And I want you to behave!!
Good, let’s go then.
(The sound of shoes and toenails, a door opening and closing. Silence)