I still recall the first time I shook someone's hand: Grade 2.
I had just won a poster contest, sort of a big deal I guess because there was an assembly and a man in a suit presented me with a book and about $25, give or take $25 (that part is not so clear). I could not recall the drawing. I drew so frequently it could have been anything. Nor did I recall entering a contest. Yup peeps. More evidence that I have a history of being clueless.
Anyway, the suit reached out to shake my hand. I had no idea what he was doing. None. Total discombobulation. It's that innocent kid stage, eh? Reminds me of my cousin Rory who, on the first day of school, knew enough to go stand at the urinals to pee but was still clueless enough to pull his pants down to his ankles before he did.
Anyway...the suit nodded at me. I looked at the principal and his perplexed face combined with his furious pantomiming indicated I needed to lift the paralyzed stump that was once my arm and somehow interact with the stranger's extended hand. So I reached out with my left hand for his already extended right hand. And for a moment, we stood there, holding hands. FAIL! Despite my blunder, everyone clapped. And the applause felt great. Still though, I wondered, what the heck is going on? (Apparently my drawing skills were significantly more advanced than my social skills. Hmm. Has anything really changed?)
This was not a negative experience. As an adult, I don't fear shaking people's hands. I did not become Howie Mandel. However, it might explain why I am sensitive to the whole shaking hands experience. To me, it's important. I want to show respect. But the margin for error makes me even more neurotic, if that's possible.
Example. Think of the last time you shook someone's hand. Whether comfortable or awkward, how would you describe it?
- The Dead Fish Shake
- The Crusher
- The Two-handed Shake
- The Finger Shake
- The Sweaty Slide-out
- The Linger-too-long Shake
- The Too Feminine or Too Masculine Shake
- The No-eye-contact Shake
- The Wipe-on-the-pants-before-I-shake Shake
- The Dreaded There-is-something-about-this-person-that-makes-me-not-want-to-make-physical-contact-but-I'm-going-to-anyway-and-even-shake-hands-more-assuredly-now-to-overcompensate-for-that-thought Shake
Unfortunately this occured mere seconds after I came out of the bathroom at work. My hand? Still wet. Seriously wet. Just soap and water peeps. Honest. For some reason, I was on air dry. But she didn't know that!
Now that is a lasting first impression. FAIL!