Can you say “Nanew, nanew!” holding your hand sideways the way Robin Williams did in Mork and Mindy? Or better yet can you contort your hands like Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame: “Live long and prosper”? Your thumb is out from the rest of your fingers and they are separated with the pointer and middle together and the ring finger and little finger together with a space open between them. When I try either, I look like I am having an attack and need help. The main question is this. When You Know What is really gone, are we going to be able to shake hands again?
My husband, Macho Bill, says, “Yes, men shake hands.” He is sure the Western values are tied up in a firm handshake. “Howdy partner?” comes with a good grip. My advice: “Wear thick leather gloves.
Politicians are really in trouble. No shaking hands, no kissing babies, no patting folks on the back. How much will this new behavior cost them? People want to know the candidates are real and not a Forest Gump fake image. “Life may be like a box of chocolates but, these days it often comes with nuts.” I want my politicians healthy and real to the touch.
The history of the handshake comes to us from the 5th century B.C. in Greece. It was a symbol of peace, showing that neither person was carrying a weapon. During the Roman era, the handshake was more of an arm grab of the sleeve since they hid daggers in them. A simple gesture of good will is what Brutus said, right before he grabbed Caesar. It was a handshake that went wrong. “We only came to hug Caesar not to knife him. We got confused!” Handshakes were taboo for a short while after that in Rome.
There is also another factor in losing the handshake. In private clubs or organizations that are selective in their membership there has always been the “secret handshake,” which allows only members to recognize each other. My problem with secret societies is that I cannot even remember all the “secret” passwords to my computer, my bank account, my telephone, or my household security. How could I remember a new handshake?
In Europe, men still tip their hats. Of course, it rains all the time in Europe, so maybe it is just to get rid of the rain? Here all those continental gals thought the guys were hot for them. Can you see the graffiti artists tipping their stocking caps? I think not. Jane Austen would have a fit. In her world of the early 1800s, men took off their hats and bowed to the ladies. The ladies would blush and curtsey to the gentlemen. It was a bit much.
I can take or leave the handshake—one man on our block met me with a grip so strong I thought my most important digit was broken. My ring finger was bruised. Ha! Got ya, you thought it was…
I am however a hugger. My grandchildren expect it from me. This is now getting serious. Most parts of the world get by without physical contact. Islamic countries forbid it. Women may not be touched at all. In Asia, men and women give each other a little bow. The ladies are graceful, and the guys are very tough. It does not bother them to bow.
So, to wrap it up, what is next? There is the fist bump. Is Holly Holm ready to do that to most folks, and how well will our knuckles hold up with a great athlete like Holly? Then there is the elbow bump. It looks like a verse from the song, “Do you want to dance? Watch me now.” In India you can put your hands in prayer position, touch your heart and say, “Namaste.” In old cowboy movies they said, “Howdy!” before they pulled a gun. What is left?
If we bow, tip our hats, salute, yell “nanew-nanew” while putting our hand in the Spock position, people will be sure we are crazy. We will not have to do that social distancing. No one will come near us. Roaring Mouse, I cannot decide, so I’m waving all five fingers. Out.
From 1966 to 1971, Jo attended the University of New Mexico and Memphis State University, earning degrees in Communications, English, Journalism, Speech and Drama with history minors. At UNM, her hero was Tony Hillerman. She taught high school and middle school in city, country, and private schools for 30 years. Roaring Mouse is in its 25 th year. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org