Monday, December 5, 2016

Doin' the wave

Why do we make the same gesture when we approach friends that we make when we leave them?

We wave with our hands up high, palm extended toward the person to whom we draw near. In the movies, this takes place in a crowded airport or train station, and of course the other person sees you right away, instead of being occupied staring at the candy machine, trying to figure which flavor of LifeSavers to get.  No, they see you, give a little wave back, and then, in a trice, the two of you are hugging or exchanging spy information with an undercover agent or shaking hands and heading down to get a cheese sandwich for lunch.

I watch too many old movies on TCM.  I mean it.

Image result for cat o nine tails
Cat o'nine tails
Anyway, I got to thinking about waving and shaking hands and all that, and it turns out that both of them came from the desire to tell the person you were meeting that you didn't have a gun or sword or a cat o' nine tails or herpes. A hand waving freely in the air means you couldn't have anything in...that hand.  

These ancient customs don't have to be accurate, just ancient.

Along the same lines, how about shaking hands?  There is research to indicate that this practice goes back to Greece in the 5th Century BC, and that was long before the discovery of the vast lake of whipped alcohol we now call Lake Purell.  

'Tis said that we shake hands in order to show the other person that our hand has no weapons, but, again, the left hand could be hiding who-knows-what all the while. It's odd.  While you're shaking hands to make sure the other person doesn't have an Asian Throwing Star << meant for you in their hand, the hand you're grasping is full of any number of microbial pathogens, and you could wind up with scabies, cooties, or worse.

But at least while you're home getting over the H1N1 virus, at least you know nothing bad was going to happen to you.

This is why I'd rather fist bump!

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