Week 5: Shake it off

I’ve met a lot of new people in the past week — new coworkers, friends of friends, fellow yogis — and that’s all great. I love meeting people and am always looking for new friends. However, all this meeting has made me quite aware of my loathing of handshakes.

To be clear, this is not a germ thing. I do come from a long line of germophobes, but I’m not all too concerned about that. I touch things and don’t use hand sanitizer. I open doors with my hand and push keypads with my fingers. No big deal. Of course, I realize shaking hands means contact with germs, but that’s not my issue.

For me, it’s a feel thing. The vast majority of the time, a handshake is weirdly limp, awkwardly conducted or comprised of a sweaty palm and me. In any of those conditions, it takes all my self-control to not visibly cringe at the person shaking my hand.

I realize people with sweaty palms probably can’t help it, but they can help their initiation of a hand shake. Please, spare me. The awkwardness could be avoided entirely if we just knew we were going to say hi and chat — no contact required. And the limp handshakes just confuse me. Why shake my hand at all if you’re not going to mean it? I’m not going to force you to. I am often told I have a “strong” or “firm” handshake, and I take that as a compliment. Go big or go home, right?

But seriously, I’d rather go home. Why do we do this? Why do we need to touch each other to affirm our meeting? I promise I will remember you and your name and whatever we talk about without your touching me. And if you don’t touch me, then you don’t have to worry about my negative memory of your damp palm or limp grip (she writes while cringing).

Maybe handshakes are derived from a sociological tendency — a human need for physical touch or an association between contact and memory? Even so, I think we can do without. We live in a largely hands-off age, right? People meet through websites and communicate in pictographs. I think it’s time we let this old habit go.

… OK, I just googled the matter. The handshake originated as a gesture of peace, a show that meeting parties did not hold weapons. I think it’s safe to say we are no longer worried that each person we meet is hiding a shiv or an ax up his or her sleeve. I don’t need to shake your hand to trust you aren’t about to knife me. We can move on already.

Endnotes

Currently reading: Still The Best American Sports Writing 2012 (it’s a dense one)

Currently watching: White Collar, season 4; new episodes of About a Boy and Agent Carter

Song of the week: Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk”

Plans for the week: Headed to Las Vegas on Friday (my first Vegas weekend!) for a bachelorette party. Plans include Britney Spears concert on Friday and clubbing on Saturday.

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