Monday, April 9, 2012

LDM part 3: handshake horror

I need to know. I need to know who the first person was to deviate. I need to know so I can write them an angry letter. We had a perfectly easy, acceptable, traditional custom in place - you put your hand around someone else's, look them in the eye, and shake. Everyone knew it, everyone did it - it was conventional. Now: utter complexity. What the hell? Why not leave good enough alone!

Thanks to - someone - the hand shake is now another daily source of anxiety. I know I have to look terrified when someone approaches me for a greeting. My brain is completely consumed with trying to predict what kind of hand gymnastics I will need to perform. Will it be the fist bump? Will I extend an open hand only to attempt awkwardly slamming it closed at the last second when I realize the desire for knuckle-to-knuckle contact? Maybe I won't be able to close in time, and I will get a soft punch to the palm. Now I'm firmly grasping someone else's closed fist. That's embarrassing for me. But really, it should be embarrassing for them. Shake my hand like a normal person. If I wanted to punch you it wouldn't be softly and I surely wouldn't aim for your fist.

Then there's the high-five shake n' bump. You wind your arm back like you are going for a high-five, and when contact is made you slide your hand back before recoiling for a fist bump to end the maneuver. Most of the time, I'm again embarrassed as I grab the hand that is trying to slide away. How can I be blamed when I want to just shake someone's hand, then go on with my life? It's really not my fault you're still standing there knuckles out. The handshake isn't a multi-component system. I don't know how many times I've left a lonely fist in the dust, but guess what, I don't feel bad about it.

The newest trend is to is to do the high-five wind up, but instead of hand to hand contact it is a finger to finger grasping maneuver followed by a quick up-and-down pump and rapid pull-back. Yeah that makes sense. Something meant to be so inherently simple should not be so hard to describe. Herein lies the problem.

And then, of course, only slightly related but universally experienced is that delightfully graceful moment when one party expects a hug, and the other expects a shake. This screws up the rest of the interaction between the two, because one is now feeling under-appreciated, the other under-exuberant. How can the relationship go on? Seeing as hugging is just as conventional as shaking, I can't fathom any solutions, except establishing more clear relationship bounds with a person before ever attempting to greet them.

I'm realizing something interesting now, after writing all this. It seems that those who have experienced the phenomena I have (so very excruciatingly) detailed are part of a specific demographic. First of all, they are sex-limited. No, I'm not suggesting they need to go on more dates (or am I?), but that these hand shake alterations seem to be exclusively male-derived and practiced. The reason this baffles me is quite simple, but in the spirit of this post, I'll present it in a very complicated way: ask yourself which of the sexes is generally more complex, generating irrelevant and unnecessary figments often resulting in over-complication of downright simplicity. After thinking long and hard, see if your answer corresponds to the sex that has invented handshake horror. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't, depending on where your biases lie. But if it doesn't, you are correct.

These nonsensical greeting exercises also seem to be limited to younger generations. This gives me hope that whoever started the trends is still alive and out there somewhere, somewhere where postage can deliver my angry letters. I haven't seen too many grandpas running around fist bumping people, although I have started to notice some of these trends showing up in older communities. Literally everyone is starting to catch on, and it's horrible.

It's ridiculous that I am able to write so much about this LDM, so I am going to stop. I'll conclude with something that pertains to the ladies, since they didn't get much love in this post: if your gynecologist ever goes for a fist bump, get the hell out of there.

Sorry mom.

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