I’ve never been good at being in society. I nearly always feel awkward, because–let’s face it–I’m a strange bird. I’m way too loud. I laugh like your drunk uncle. (You don’t have one? Sorry, I thought everyone did.) Oh, and people don’t get my sense of humor. I don’t know why.
Anyhow, one of the societal norms that causes me a great deal of discomfiture is the “high five” (and other awkward handshakes). I’m looking forward to a time when they’ll be passe. Please God, let them become passe. In case you’re wondering, here are the reasons I eagerly await the demise of the dreaded high-five and its siblings:
- The window of opportunity is narrow. My ability to make accurate spatial judgments is limited. This means when someone (let’s call him Chip) raises his hand in the air and booms, “Awesome job! C’mon, give it to me! Right here!” sweat begins to trickle down my back. Everyone knows the resounding slap of a high-five should ring out and grab the attention of the entire room. Yet when I’m involved, approximately 2 out of 5 attempts results in my pinky and ring-finger weakly flapping against Chip’s pinky. (If Chip has wide hands, the odds are slightly improved.) Another 1 out of 5 attempts results in a complete miss. I have terrible aim, Chip.
- Failed high-five etiquette is unclear. It’s bad enough I missed. Do I try again? Do I pretend our hands made crisp contact and move on? Do I avert my eyes, clear my throat, and make goodbye noises like at the end of a bad date? Why Chip? Why have you reduced me to this?
- Is it really a high-five, or is it a high handshake? I was recently presented a high-five opportunity. I lifted my hand and was pleased to have made passably good contact. But then the high-five instigator grabbed my hand, instantly converting our greeting from high-five to high-handshake. Since I’d assumed we were high-fiving, I had already began to retract my hand–so this guy (let’s call him Chip) grabbed my fingers instead of my palm. I felt like screaming, “I didn’t know it was a high handshake! Did I miss the signal?! When will I learn?!” But … I think that might’ve made things worse.
- Failed high-handshake etiquette is unclear. My three fingers were smushed into Chip’s hand like a fistful of Kit Kats. (Separated into individual bars, of course.) I was at a loss: Was there time to play it off, or had he already noticed I’d tried to slap and go? Should I try to slide my hand back up? Should I just leave my fingers in their lumpy triad and try wrapping my thumb around his palm? I could play it off like that’s how I do the high handshake. (“Don’t you do it that way? Doesn’t everybody? Yeah, you’re socially awkward, Chip.”)
- Any hand-greeting (other than the standard handshake) is awkward. I have another friend who greets everyone with one of those awkward handshakes that involves grips, mutual hand-wringing, and then snapping your hands crisply apart. Everytime he reaches for my hand I sweat down my back. Why does it have to be this way? Can’t we just shake hands? I’ll even settle for a high-five.
So, here’s what I’m saying. I’m just not good at it, okay? It’s nothing personal. God is at work in me, give it time.