Shake On It

I use a square of toilet paper as a bookmark, so you can tell where I do most of my reading.

On another subject, National Handshake Day approaches again this year with little fanfare. This momentous occasion has unfortunately been overshadowed by the second anniversary of the timely death of a freakishly overexposed minstrel who finally achieved the eternal coma to which all great (and not-so-great) minds aspire. But for those lacking aspiration, then destiny will suffice.

My hope is that in a hundred years, this annual drama will have been utterly forgotten except by a few jeopardy contestants and the occasional tenured college professor whose course in pop art or modern surgery carries him through to a fat retirement on the taxpayer dole.

fuck them all.

Back to the art of the handshake and all of its cultural ramifications.

I recall one of those hot summer teenage days, rolling through the trailer park on bleached out asphalt to pick up my new girl and take her to the movies. I dont remember the flick but I remember the handshake. When the front door of the doublewide swung open, in front of me stood on two legs her old man appearing suspiciously like a bear wearing a wife-beater and Miller Beer ballcap. The species of bear remains a mystery, but he was hairy and immediately extended his huge paw for the obligatory shake.

Young and inexperienced as I was, there hadnt been much time to discover the wide variety of handshakes that exist in the human conditionfrom the dead fish to the slippery eel and as I soon discovered, the bone crusher. The bear wasted no time in demonstrating his preference, and the good old right hand, my preferred, began to compress and diminish. How does one reason with an animal?

I didnt realize it at the time, but a game of power and domination was being played out. The wise thing to do would be to say, "yes, you owned me, now let go of my fucking hand". But a young turk doesnt think that way. In the moment, I thought that my only salvation was to counterattack, and squeeze back as relentlessly as possible until eye contact was broken and the inane questions ceased. I also became acutely aware of the spanking new senior class ring I had just purchased one of those big, gold monsters with the class mascot in relief on one side and the glorious year of our graduation on the other. As my hand took up less and less space in the universe (could it actually become a black hole at some point?), the ring did not shrink, but simply invaded the soft space already occupied by my flesh.

The impression of a caveman and class of 80 remained imprinted and visible for a good 30-40 minutes.

I have to admit that I respect and admire those courageous and desperate creatures which have escaped certain death by slowly and painfully gnawing their own paw off. The thought didnt actually enter my mind at that moment, but if it had, I certainly would have dismissed it straight away.
Uploaded 01/07/2012
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