After a day of dueling speeches about the future of Syria and all of the refugees fleeing the war-torn country, President Barack Obama and Russian president Vladimir Putin were forced to sit near each other at a United Nations luncheon.
They also had to clink their glasses of sparking rosé after a toast from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. And after sharing perhaps the most intense moment of rosé-toast eye contact in diplomatic history — it probably only earns an honorable mention in reality-TV history, however — they then had to prepare for a private meeting.
Although the day’s events and the heady politics discussed have given the world plenty of unanswered questions to ponder, Daily Intelligencer intends to unpack this photo and its many unknowns first. For example, who decided to serve sparkling rose at the event — and did that person secretly hope it would be consumed after passive-aggressive glass-clinking, or were they just sad summer is ending? Did Obama get a sense of Putin’s soul when he looked him in the eye, just as his predecessor did? Is the floating hand near Obama’s shoulder — the one that makes him look like he is double-fisting rosé — actually just a projection of what he unconsciously wished he had at that very moment? Are Model U.N. clubs at college campuses going to start drinking peach André instead of Natty Light? If Obama and Putin were in the Princess Bride, which one would you assume had built up a resistance to iocane powder? (Everyone on Twitter apparently wondered this.)
How many seconds did this moment last? Does the person in the lower right-hand corner holding a glass of water have something against rosé? If this wine toast happened in a James Bond movie, how many minutes would there be left until the climax of the film? (And, more important, what secret abilities would Obama’s American flag pin have in this film?) If this wine toast happened on an episode of The Bachelor, how many episodes until the season finale? Do Obama and Putin practice their icy toast stares in the mirror — and if so, for how long?
When Obama puts his thumb on the bowl of his Champagne flute, is he trying to draw inspiration from the chilled wine for his stare?
Did the moment below occur before or after the toast? Does Putin only have one facial expression? Is it correct to read Obama’s expression as “Come at me, bro”? Is it correct to read Ban Ki-moon’s expression as “What have I done?”
If the photos below took place after the toast, are the leaders and diplomats below congratulating Obama on his toast face? And is Obama promising to give South African president Jacob Zuma advice on how to wordlessly convey foreign-policy platforms via clinked rosé glasses?
The world may never know — or it will at least have to wait until the oral history of this is published ten years from now.