Last November, I vehemently insisted with full venom that I was done with the custom of shaking hands. It was the perfect timing to cement that declaration with the winter holidays soon approaching. In the subsequent weeks, I followed through with that declaration by instead offering a polite fist bump in response to an attempted handshake. Despite the belief that I was doing the right thing, the effort repeatedly left me with a sense of awkward guilt.
As I now age into my late thirties, I perhaps have become more increasingly self-aware. While I have always suspected that I may sometimes be specifically fussy, I have in recent years began to wonder if that fussiness along with some of my unusual quirks might also make me come across as a curmudgeon.
One such visual that downright scared me straight was observing the interactions of my own father during our recent Thanksgiving and Christmas get-togethers. While I will applaud his effort for stringent mask wearing during those parties, it was his blatant refusal to partake in a celebratory toast that we all were doing because it would have meant him having to briefly remove his mask in the middle of the living room setting. In my view, his mannerisms during that exchange came across as unintentionally cringeworthy.
I was instantly reminded of the “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” scene where Clark Griswold’s father-in-law angrily insists his need to eat so that he can take his back pills.
That was all it took. I don’t ever want to come across like that.
While I didn’t immediately change course in my stance towards handshaking, I contemplated it further through the holidays and into the new year and eventually concluded that the long-term ramifications might cause more awkward harm socially than any physical danger or inconvenience that comes as a result of shaking hands.
So here I am. Several weeks into the new year, I have since surprised a few of my friends or family members when offering my hand upon greeting. While I won’t pretend to now be an enthused hand shaker, it doesn’t mean I have to be blatantly awkward about it. I’ll simply make discreet use of my pocket hand sanitizer afterwards until I can find my way to an adequate sink for proper handwashing with soap and water.
I will again insist that it’s not you, it’s me.
It… Is… Always… Me…
Please, don’t take it personally.