They Changed the Damn Handshake Again


I know I’m not cool – but I do try to keep up. When I go to some function, there are two good friends who’ll help me decide what to wear. One’s a young woman and one’s gay – so I’ve got it covered. I practice ‘small talk’ in advance so I don’t appear rude.

I know when people start talking about movies or new television shows, I just put on a happy face, smile, and nod. If they ask if I’ve seen it, I always say, “Not yet – but I hear it’s great!” If they start telling me, in EXCRUCIATING DETAIL a character biography or plot line, I throw up a line I picked up from a bartender friend – “Don’t tell me too much, I want to see it myself!”

If the talk turns to sports (in which case I’m just about Jewish) I’ve learned to slowly shake a sad head and say, “Typical ______s”. Like, “Didja hear the Bills signed Joe Bagadonuts!?” I sadly shake my head and say, “Typical Bills.”

This all may sound awful to you but the alternative is to slam a pistol into my mouth and paint the walls. I have an EXTREMELY LOW threshold of interest in any contemporary cultural anything. That’s just the way I am – I can’t help it. Do you ever get bored? Well, multiply that by about 1000 and land in my land. My friends used to call me the “Chairman of the Bored”. But I try to fit in. I try not to think too much. Usually I can assimilate enough so as not to be a public freak show – until something new is tossed to me. Like different handshakes.

Until the late ‘60’s, handshakes were handshakes – everyone knew how to shake hands. Then the cool people started the “power” handshake – confusing all of us who weren’t cool. Today, anything goes – and usually goes right by me. I extend my hand and some young coolie lightly hits it with a fist – or holds up a hand for a ‘high-5’. I used to think the ‘high 5’ botard was about to slap me – but I now know that’s what pro athletes do on TV if they happen to do anything except screw up badly. Yay! Congratulating ‘High 5’s’ all around if you didn’t drop the ball or ran a half-yard or passed your pee test! I guess pro sports guys need a lot of handy positive reinforcements. Their paychecks would be enough for me but what the hell do I know?

At least all these screwy handshakes are better than hugs. I’m not a hugger. You can hug me in public – but I’m not hugging you unless I’ve just slipped a five-dollar bill between your soft, moist skin and your G-string.

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6 Responses to “They Changed the Damn Handshake Again”

  1. Brenda says:

    Being cool is a state of mind. You Paolo definitely are cool. Don’t sell yourself short. Dude, just start your own thing. Greet everyone with a booty bump! That will really fuck with people.

    My 14 year old tries to act like his parents aren’t cool. I laugh and tell him he he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about. Then my husband thtreatens to mow the lawn in his underwear the next time our son’s friends are over so he can get a better understanding of just how cool we are. Needless to say the kid has seen the light and knows he has the coolest parents in town……

  2. Bill says:

    One of your best blogs yet. Lots of humor.

    Hugs and air kisses. Not my favorite things. Most people will give me a conventional handshake if I make the first move. Just keep a supply of handi-wipes nearby.

  3. Joe Belle-Isle says:

    Cool! Ahh-Hmm? Chilly dude, super chilly. The guy that lived behind Grandma- and we both kindabacked off a little on acknowleging a common aquaintance, used to mow the snow once in a while, and he was a freind of mine, I was just surprised he lived behind Grandma. But hew was definitely “COOL!” Rememeber when stuff was ‘Keen?’ Then it became cool. Where did that line of thinking come from in the first place? How about being French war hero and getting kissed on both Cheeks by Charles Degaulle.

  4. amy stahl says:

    MOIST, Franco???


    and, a note, just because Joe made me think of it.
    While he was mowing over the snow for his parents, mine were so cooool that they had me Vacuum the front lawn.
    It made sense to my German father.
    “Well sure, Dat. Cant have those tree bits blowing back in..”

  5. Frank Paolo says:

    Amy, uh, would that be the same Dad who once shaved 1/2 his beard off for a time?

    Joe, in the building in which I work and used to live, there are a number of young, Black guys who think I’m “coo-ool!” – have no idea why – but when I ask them ‘how ya doin’?”, the new “cool” response is “chillin’ slo-mo”.

  6. Sarge Booker says:

    “Greetings & Salutations!” Shaking hands and giving a biography is not unlike my youth spend hitch-hiking to and from, mostly fro! You’d have to tell the driver who gave you a ride what seemed like a life history, perhaps to entertain them and keep them from falling asleep while driving? Seemed they liked to pick up interest looking characters, I probably fell into that category? The character of “Monk” played by Tony Shalhoub, no relation to Omar Sharif Shalhoub, who has his assistant hand him a “handy-wipe” as he knows one can pick up a cold from others through shaking hands. When I wore a large white neard and played Santa Claus I could get away with shaking hands with white gloves and avoid the sniffles, hopefully? “Glad-Handing” would be a good way to describe the politicians handshake? Personally, the best handshake was the one the African-American brother soldiers gave who served in Nam as it was never limp like a banana-peel! I worry about hugs as pick-pockets can get your billfold too quickly, thus I carry a Harley-Davidson Motor Wallet with a chain on it to make their effort of releiving me of my pocket’s contents while “bear-hugging” me! I wonder what would have is I powdered my hand with “itching-powder” then shaked their hand and careful santized my own hand as not to transwer the powder to my eyes, mouth, or nose? Imagine a politician like Joe Bagadonuts red-eyed from the powder and wondering who tricked him? Just a thought, of course, would never resort to such a thing myself! Wink! Wink! 🙂 Sarge Booker of Tujunga, California

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