7 Reasons That Shaking Hands Is Weird
Shaking hands is a well established custom. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a bit strange though. Here are seven reasons why.
1. Movement. We all know that the handshake developed as a way of demonstrating that the participants were unarmed (that’s the hand part). But what’s with the shake? Why do we move our hands up and down? Why don’t we move our hands from side to side or in a circular motion? Why don’t we jump up and down or stand on one leg? Why not dance the Hokey-Cokey or play the pat-a-cake pat-a-cake game – or am I thinking about Freemasons? Anyway, the up-and-down thing is odd.
2. Spouse. I once congratulated my wife for something or other (forgetting what for is probably the reason I’ve never been nominated for Husband of the Year) by very formally, and firmly, shaking her hand and saying, “Well done, Darling” in a plummy accent. Though funny, it was quite a strange experience. We’d been together for ten years by then and had never shaken hands before. She spontaneously erupted into giggles several times during the remainder of the day. She still thinks it’s one of the funniest things ever. If you want a weird experience, give your partner a firm handshake.
3. Women. Shaking hands with a woman is strange. Kissing a woman is not strange. That’s why I’m a kisser, not a shaker. Men – during their boyhood – are trained to shake hands: Women – during their boyhood – are not trained to shake hands and, consequently, they don’t do it well. I don’t know what women are being trained to do while they’re not being taught to shake hands. Possibly they’re being taught to smell nice.
4. Hygiene. I’m sure we’ve all heard various statistics about the amount of urine found in bar snacks. The urine gets there via contact with hands. Unwashed hands. The same hands that people want you to shake. Shaking hands is an exchange of urine then. Lovely. (There are actually very good reasons not to wash your hands in the men’s toilets at bars – mostly to do with having to touch the taps and the hand dryer. Here’s the rationale: If I thought my hands were dirty, what’s the last part of my body that I would touch with them? That’s right. And I’m not so inept that I ever piss on my own hands, so they don’t need washing afterwards. And I now realise that I’ve become distracted from writing about handshakes and am writing about my penis, which is not really how Jon or I envisaged 7 Reasons going: It’s more how I imagined psychotherapy going. So, anyway, back to handshaking…)
5. (…or not) Penises. While it’s on my mind: Men spend a lot of time touching their penises. Also, men shake hands a lot. So, when men shake hands, they’re touching penises by proxy. This is bad. Heterosexual men do not want to do this. In fact, direct penis-to-penis contact between two heterosexual men is the worst thing that can happen in the world: worse than anything that can happen in the Large Hadron Collider; worse than being eaten by a horse; worse even, than a day-trip to Whitstable. The proxy-penis-contact that comes about by the shaking of hands isn’t as bad as direct contact, but it’s definitely not a good thing. I may never shake another hand again after that thought.
6. Left-handed-handshakes. The Italian word for left is sinistra, it’s where we get the word sinister from. Obviously, in these enlightened times, we know that there’s nothing inherently evil about being left-handed. Handshaking with your left hand is a thoroughly bad thing though. The correct response to anyone who offers you their left hand is to take a step backwards, stare at their hand and think “git”.
7. Dogs. One of the first things most dog-owners train their dog to do is proffer its paw for a “hand” shake. Why? Why is this pointless exercise given priority over training them to use the toilet, teaching them not to chase cyclists or getting them not to stick their many-toothed-snouts into the crotches of terrified house-guests? Who the hell wants to shake hands with a dog?