Yes, I know. Don’t shake hands because you will get covid and your nose will slide off your face. To be clear, I am not an anti-masker or a covid denier. My wife and I are both fully vaccinated. I have no political agenda on this issue. What I want to say is, let’s give up on the slimy used car salesman or Lyft driver fist bump and the forearm bump thing that brings us in closer proximity that any reasonable understanding of personal space might endorse. Let’s just man up and shake hands, for crying out loud, and then wash or sanitize our hands before licking our fingers.

I miss the handshake. Maybe I am out on a limb about this, but – with two important exceptions I will get to in a moment – the handshake is a sign of mutual respect and warmth that men in our culture seldom experience. In our culture men are still so homophobic that we rarely touch each other unless we are playing sports together and then we caress each other’s butt in a congratulatory manner that makes no homophobic sense at all. I will confess that shaking hands with women is something I could do without, partly because I never know how much pressure to apply and partly because so many women raise their arms six inches and then tip their hands down forty-five degrees when shaking hands, making the whole process an uncomfortable orthopedic nightmare.

The exceptions? The more benign is the “clasp both hands around the other person’s hand to establish false intimacy.” I will take a pass on all forms of pretense and nonsense, if you please. The one I despise most is the, “let me use my free hand to reach your elbow and exert great pressure on the tendons therein to cause pain and establish dominance.” This one so irritates me that, after a week during which I had to endure several of these, I was prepared to use my knee to rearrange the giblets of the next person who tried it. These handshakes aren’t about warmth or friendship, they are about games the socially impotent like to play. As far as I am concerned, they can disappear from the handshake landscape with no actual loss being incurred.

So let’s shake hands. If you prefer not to, perhaps a bow in the Asian fashion is an adequate substitute as it conveys mutual respect, too. Just keep your inner, corner-lot used care salesman Lyft driver nonsense to yourself. It is actually worse than nothing.

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