Hand­shakes and door­knobs

The Compass - - Editorial - Harold Walters My Im­per­fect Slant Harold Walters lives Hap­pily Ever After in Dunville, in the only Cana­dian province with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at gh­wal­ters663@gmail.com.

Pic­ture the Sis­tine Chapel’s ceil­ing. Fo­cus on Mickey An­gelo’s paint­ing The Cre­ation of Adam, in which God’s and Adam’s fin­ger­tips are al­most touch­ing. Ap­par­ently, God is reach­ing to zap life into Adam and jump-start the Hu­man Com­edy.

Adam and God are not about to shake hands.

Hold the thought. “Harry, my ir­rev­er­ent love,” says Dear­est Duck, help­mate Eve to this scrib­bler’s Adam, “a lot you know about Adam or God.”

“My Duck,” say I, “I don’t ‘low they shook hands.”


As a wee bay-boy, I was taught it was po­lite to shake hands on oc­ca­sions: in­tro­duc­tions, greet­ings after long ab­sence, seal­ing deals — trans­ac­tions that some­times re­quired spit­ting into palms be­fore hands were clasped.

Pappy in­structed me. “Al­ways shake a man’s hand, Harry, my son,” he said. “Look him straight in the eyes and give him a hearty squeeze.”

I fol­lowed Pappy’s in­struc­tions and I’ve gone through life reach­ing out to of­fered hands and firmly shak­ing — pump, one, two, three.

And I’ve hated it every time. Es­pe­cially the mighty ma­choman I’m-stronger-than-you vice grip. I hated it as a boy be­cause every­one was stronger than me and I had to prove my tough­ness by re­fus­ing to wince. I hated it as a grown man be­cause I’ve never been a player in the whole al­pha-male pos­tur­ing.

“Harry, own up,” says Dear­est Duck, “you have al­ways been a wimp.”

B’ys, I can’t be­lieve she said that.


I hate the bone-grind­ing grip nowa­days be­cause my arthritic knuck­les howl if some young pup, in­tend­ing to prove he’s stronger than an old dog, crushes them.

Push­ing on…

Adam and God didn’t shake hands and — in un­soiled Eden — I don’t s’pose they had to worry about door­knobs.

Door­knobs are among the filth­i­est ob­jects on this planet, eh b’ys?

For frig sake, you don’t want to shake a hand that has latched onto a grimy door­knob.

“Harry, that is a bit harsh,” says Dear­est Duck who shuffs doors open with her el­bow and — I’ve seen her — some­times

Pappy in­structed me. “Al­ways shake a man’s hand, Harry, my son,” he said. “Look him straight in the eyes and give him a hearty squeeze.”

cov­ers hanky.

Even in this hy­giene-con­scious, clean­li­ness-aware world there are those among us who — get this! — don’t al­ways wash their hands…

… even after at­tend­ing to per­sonal func­tions in pub­lic re­strooms.

Do the math, b’ys. In­no­cently enough, the hand ex­tended to join yours may have turned a sul­lied door­knob.

At the risk of be­ing ban­ished with rocks, I won­der how Adam and God feel about the hand­shak­ing of­ten done in churches th­ese days. You know, when all hands [!] stretch out in blessed greet­ings from pew to pew.

On the oc­ca­sions when I do find my­self in a pew, I can’t help think­ing about door­knobs. In­stead of par­tak­ing of the god­b­less-you mo­ment, I bury my face in a hym­nal — but not too deeply; you never know who coughed wetly into its pages door­knobs with her — in a dis­play of con­cen­trated rev­er­ence.

Yet here’s the thing — what ac­tion can re­place the hand­shake?

Well, there’s hug­ging and cheek kiss­ing but that’s en­tirely too cum­ber­some, es­pe­cially if its win­ter and the whole meet‘n-greet crowd is bun­dled up in Canada Goose kuli­tuks.

The Ja­panese might have the an­swer. They do a lot of cer­e­mo­nial bow­ing. The prob­lem with sub­sti­tut­ing bow­ing for hand­shak­ing is that it could be­come very time con­sum­ing. By the time every­one had bowed to each other the mo­ment might have passed.

… ? …

I’ve been think­ing.

You know who might have the right ges­ture to re­place the hand­shake? To cor­rupt fa­mous words once penned by Rud­yard Ki­pling, “Younger men than I, Gunga Din.”

I’m think­ing of those buck­oes who bump fists. The fist bump, aka PIB — Pound It, Bro.

It’s the ob­vi­ous an­swer. It’s fast — the split sec­ond of flesh on flesh con­tact is too quick for germs to change hands, so to speak, eh b’ys?

The fist bump should be­come univer­sal. It’ll work as long as he-man types don’t take the PIB lit­er­ally and start de­liv­er­ing blows aimed at knock­ing you on your arse.

An un­re­lated — foot­note.

Do you know the aka of those plas­tic canopy shields used to pro­tect food at salad bars and buf­fets?

Sneeze guards. “Harry, that’s dis­gust­ing!” Just say­ing.

Thank you for read­ing. p’raps —


The Town of New Per­li­can has a snazzy new sign to show off. Linda Pelly, a mem­ber Her­itage New Per­li­can, is a graphic de­signer based in Toronto and also a sea­sonal res­i­dent of the com­mu­nity. She cre­ated the sign, which is lo­cated by the pond across from the com­mu­nity cen­tre and town of­fices. Pic­tured here with the sign are a few Her­itage New Per­li­can mem­bers (l-r): Betty Simmons, Pelly, Robert O’Reilly, Eileen Matthews and Ruth Bur­ridge.

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