I think I shake hands wrong. I haven’t yet pinpointed the exact instant of breakdown, the point where it all goes pearshaped and everyone ends up with fewer or more fingers than they started, but with some fresh infusions of tea (earl grey — mmm...bergamot...) and some of that ol’ midnight oil, I think the lads and I will be able to hash it out with some venn diagrams.
You’re thinking, how hard could it be? How many ways could it all go wrong?
Many, many ways, my friend. Many ways. And once it’s gone off once, you become self-conscious about it and then there is the very real danger that you will undergo the strange and arduous journey of exploring the many ways that a handshake can go wrong. Myself, I have shaken hands many a time, going back to my high school tennis days, although those post-game congratulations could barely be considered second cousins to a true clasp-and-shake, there being barely clasp and definitely no shake. I think it had something to do with the skirts, there being no shake. You can only properly shake in a proper suit.
Do you rememeber where/how/when you learned to shake hands? It’s such a simple thing (one would think!), that we forget it’s not instinctual. I learned at the feet of my high school German teacher. He was very insistent on a firm grip and the two eyes staring straight into the back of your head. Firmness and eye contact were key to showing your sincerity, or at the least, your sincerity in appearing sincere. And I had no problems back then. I received many hearty German congratulations on my handshaking (Ach, wunderbar!). So I wonder now how it’s all fallen apart. To be continued...