I don’t say “bless you” when someone sneezes. I refuse to utter the phrase for many reasons, chief of which is the fact that I don’t believe sneezing leaves someone susceptible to demonic possession, having their soul stolen or that it wards off the Black Plague. Secondly, I believe that it is very strange to acknowledge a natural function of the body. Saying “bless you” after someone sneezes and singing “Hello, Dolly” after someone breaks wind is the same in my eyes.
While saying “bless you” following a sneeze is not a practice to which I adhere, it does not bother me. However, I take issue with another customary act — shaking hands.
So we’re meeting for the first time? Let me awkwardly place my hand into yours to signify that yes, we now have in fact met. And nothing says “Nice to meet you” like two unknown people spreading all their germs to each other.
And why, when someone accomplishes something, is it seen as perfectly normal to thrust out your hand and expect the other person to do the same? “Congratulations on the birth of your child! To signify well wishes, feel how sweaty my palm is!”
While I find the custom strange on the surface, it gets even weirder when you consider there are different types of hand-shakers.
First, there is Mr. I’m Likely Compensating for Something by Crushing Your Hand. This man was told before his first job interview that nothing indicates confidence like a firm, hearty handshake. But this man can’t leave it at that. No, he must show you just how self-assured he is by grabbing your hand with the kind of force that turns your fingers into pulp. In order to deal with this man, I advise you to scream during the handshake because he should be made aware that is a normal response when someone is pulverizing human bones.
There is also Mr. Way Too Overzealous who is just so darned happy to meet you that his arm flails so violently during the handshake that elbows are pulled out of sockets and wrists are permanently damaged.
Mr. Has to Shake Your Hand Constantly is similar to Overzealous man, but it’s not the freneticism of his handshakes that gets you, it’s the frequency. He has to rub his palm together with yours at seemingly every opportunity, including during a greeting, after a funny joke, when saying goodbye, when someone mentions they like toast, when the Earth continues it rotation, etc.
For those who don’t believe there is enough skin contact between strangers during a handshake, there is Mr. Hand Cupper. This is a man who wants to double the chances a little bit of the snot he blew into his hands earlier ends up on you. It’s not enough to just use his right hand, Mr. Hand Cupper needs maximum contact and employs his left hand to make the bacterial buns of a handshake burger.
Then there is the category in which I fall — Mr. Dead Hand. This is a man who doesn’t care for handshakes, but is still inclined to lock inner thumbs together because otherwise he might grossly offend someone who feels disrespected when someone isn’t eager to exchange palm sweat.
So if you run into me on the street, do not be disrespected when I am not eager to shake your hand. You should, however, be concerned if I start singing “Hello, Dolly.”