One day about 40,000 years ago, just after homo-doofus took delivery of a new, sleeker forehead and a lifetime supply of some serious sapiens (Say SOPPY-ends), he heard a knock on his cave.
It was the new guy from the next cave over. Our man felt a tad guilty for not already welcoming the guy to the Neolithic Revolution, or giving directions to the nearest Kung Pao Pterodactyl palace–which was a little tricky to find.
Then he cut himself some slack, realizing that socialization hadn’t yet been invented. Heck, he thought, engaging his sapiens for the first time, maybe it was up to him to start the ball rolling.
He stepped from his cave and, totally improvising, extended his hand. The neighbor fell back in momentary fear and puzzlement. Then, realizing he was much bigger than the guy trying to rob him with nothing but a bare hand, he shouted “Blikdyvoober!”
He grabbed his neighbor’s hand, lifted him completely off the cave floor, banged his head against the roof then slammed him to the ground, then back up to the roof and then down to the ground and so forth, six or seventeen times. Thus was born not just the handshake but the first ever “stand-your-ground” verdict of justifiable homicide of a harmless neighbor.
Over the centuries we have refined handshakes to minimize injury and legal costs–but also to accentuate our inventiveness, hipster coolness and dangerous personality disorders.
We’ve seen The Vise (basic hand squeeze); The Transfer (passing along chicken grease from the last shaker); The Dead Man Walking (a hand that feels like a deceased walleye); The Politician (two-handed grasp of dubious sincerity); The Lobster (trapping the fingers of an outstretched hand in a claw); The Neutral Zone Infraction (a double hand-roll followed by the words “Unabated to the quarterback”); The Exploding Fist Bump (invented by irrepressible kidder, Robert “Pull my finger” Oppenheimer.)
What’s the next iteration of the handshake? What does iteration mean? Can you get Kung Pao Pterodactyl with peanuts?
After only two beers, I devised this handshake which will revolutionize the entire canon of howdy-do. I call it “Prelude-to-Institutionalization.”
1. Extend your hand as if to ask “How beez you are?” or “Long time no smell.” The other person pantomimes throwing ground beef, finely chopped onions and a pinch of oregano into your hand.
2. Rub your hands together as if you are rolling a meatball (If you’re a vegetarian, roll your eyes). Throw the meatball at the other person.
3. The throwee now swings an invisible bat. You reach up as if to grab a soaring meatball. The other person twirls his finger in the air to signify a home run.
4. You pantomime putting on your Dr. Dre/Lebron Power-Beats, then connecting to New York for the replay ruling. After twenty minutes you remove the headphones and give the signal for foul meatball.
5. The other person pantomimes pulling a missile launcher from the bat rack and firing a rocket your way. You raise your finger, signifying the infield flying missile rule. The other person strikes a puzzled pose because no one understands the infield fly rule.
6. The missile falls to the ground invisibly as you jerk your thumb in the air, pantomiming an umpire grunting something unintelligible like “Blikdyvoober!”
Note: In field trials, some found it more meaningful, when the invisible missile is fired at them, to pantomime the sprinkling of metallic chaff, which the missile hits, exploding harmlessly and silently.
Trouble is, this relies on the overused explosion paradigm from other out-of-date or discredited handshakes. A little too derivative, don’t you think?
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2015, all rights reserved.