A Personal Revolt Against Handshakes

Of course, being properly etiquette-trained, I regularly extend my hand for the requisite handshake. What a tortuous experience that often turns out to be. If you’ll pardon the expression, this hand-shaking business has gotten quite out of hand.

Would that I had that rousing, “full-body experience” that author Judith Krantz once mentioned about having upon touching President Clinton’s hand.

Instead, I’ve been perpetually confronted by a raft of woefully under-skilled handshakers. All too frequently, my hand has been willy-nilly crushed by both man and woman.

Over-claspers are bad enough, but under-grippers are downright pathetic. Yuck! Indeed, too many folks deliver limp handshakes – one that my mom likens to wet dish rags. (Amazingly, these people’s colorless personalities do often match their drab handshakes.)

Of late, I’ve become increasingly perplexed and annoyed by this uncomfortable, ubiquitious, obligatory salutation. Everywhere I go – from business meetings to star-studded parties to Jewish charity functions – my poor hand is abused. Celebrities, high-profile executives, up-and-comers, you name it – many of them give downright disgusting handshakes.

Friends of mine have suffered similarly. One confidant gripes that an over-zealous gripper caused her to be pinched by her own rings. Another pal decries the whole custom altogether.

Whatever happened to shaking hands with finesse and cordiality?

All this agonizing handshaking makes me indulge in some speculation. Here are thoughts as to why men squeeze women’s hands too hard:

So enchanted and/or frazzled are these men by our presence that they express their eagerness by pumping our hands with entirely too much oomph.

  • They buy into the “Me-Tarzan-You-Jane” mentality. Whatever that means.
  • They fail to recognize how strong their grips are. Maybe they’re pumping too much iron too often in their quest to become Schwarzenegger-like.
  • Men who grab with gusto subconsciously do so to prove that they’re males with whom to be reckoned.
  • Shaking hard means they’re angry. About nothing and everything. In pop psychology terms, they’re passive-aggressive.
  • As for women, here are some thoughts as to why they favor this hurtful hand-clasping:They feel compelled to demonstrate that they’re strong, competent women who are “in the big leagues” and quite able to compete with men.
  • These inveterate female over-grippers subconsciously want to be men. Their parents inappropriately spent altogether too much time providing handshake-disciplining rather than potty-training. Thus, instead of properly greeting people, they’re trapped in the hurtful handshaking phase of their lives.

Hope is on the horizon though. To help these people resolve their grasping-hands-as-if-they-were iron compulsion, I plan to form an SHA group for like-minded sufferers – Strong Handshakers Anonymous, for the uninformed. This self-help concept would go over big in major metropolitan areas where Something Anonymous meetings draw throngs.

As for why people deliver oomph-less handshakes, maybe it’s because they’re insecure. Or perhaps they lack character. Whatever their reasons, this mamby-pamby, no grasp-at-all gang needs to start practicing pronto – on door knobs, bannisters, hammers, tennis rackets – anything, to develop a hearty handshake. In short, the best advice for these people, to coin an oft-used phrase, is: Get a grip! And fast.

Then, there are people who simply refuse to offer their hands, which, of course, leaves you feeling silly as your hand dangles in the air. Still more annoying are perspiring hand shakers. Even more aggravating are those folks who sloppily kiss your cheek even when you’ve only presented your hand. And let’s not forget that inane, over-used and somewhat obnoxious air-kissing custom.

So, I’ve been thinking that maybe I should quit the writing and editing business and start conducting handshaking seminars – classes that could be dubbed “How to Succeed in Business by Shaking Hands Well Without Really Trying.”

Or, perhaps I’ll just quit offering my hand when meeting people. `Course, I’ll run the risk of people thinking that I’m rude. But, hey, at least my hand won’t be crushed or ignored.