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A proper handshake

May 20, 2012
Handshake icon

Handshake icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There really is something to be said for a proper handshake.

I had the occasion over the weekend to shake hands with a guy who appeared to be in his early 80’s. It was one of those weird moments that seem to play out in slow motion so you can remember every detail of the event.

What stuck me was it was probably the first notable handshake I’ve received in years.

The guy, whose name I do not know, was about my size and build, but twice my age. He had a gregarious presence about him that seemed to be personified in his handshake.

We all shake hands at one point or another. It’s the social convention of a polite, professional society. Most of the time it’s little more than two people jutting their hands out for a split second grab and drop. Perhaps, if you’re friends with someone, you might get the combo one-armed hug n’ shake. But in general, shaking hands is hardly remarkable.

By contrast, the handshake I got from this fellow was perfect.

He locked eyes with me, brought his hand up and his elbow back, then launched his hand with the fingers open – as if he were palming a basketball – and literally grabbed my hand and clamped down with just enough force that you knew this was a guy who had lived a life that required some muscle.

It was the kind of handshake you’d imagine between a couple of former soldiers who had served in WWII and ran into each other on a dock in Brooklyn one day later in life with a greeting like, “Dutch, you old so-and-so, great to see ya!”

What a handshake.

And then this fellow and I, smiled, parted ways and never said another word or even shared a glance. He had things to do, I had things to do. We just moved on.

It was perfect.

So anyway, dear readers, if you feel like leaving your mark with a proper handshake, make it a good one.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Diane permalink
    May 22, 2012 10:09 AM

    I agree. As a woman, I get the feeling that I’m supposed to present a limp fish kind of handshake, but I don’t. I grip pretty firmly because I hate being on the receiving end of the limp fish. Although I will admit to toning it down a bit if I get a really floppy, cold hand that I’m afraid I might actually injure.

    • May 22, 2012 11:04 AM

      And here’s the thing, I think for most people, limp fish has become the norm. I’m not sure why. Perhaps we’re just not happy touching people anymore.

  2. May 27, 2012 12:07 AM

    Hello Mike! I hope you are having a wonderful weekend! I just wanted you to know that I nominated you for the “Inspiring Blogger Award!” Here is the link for it:


  1. The Secret Behind a Handshake | C'est la Vie

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