Tomorrow night I’m having dinner with my college roommate, who’s coming to town for work. We’ve known each other since, like, 1976, and it will be good to see him and catch up on things.
But as I was walking home last night, I was thinking: how do I greet him when we first see each other?
You see, our friendship dates back to the pre-hugging period. In those days, men simply didn’t give a friendly hug as a hello. I don’t think I ever saw my grandfathers or my father hug anyone, male or female, and I don’t remember any my high school or college friends going the hugging route, either. It was also before the dawn of the “bro bump,” the combination move that occurs where the two men greeting each other shake hands and collide shoulder to shoulder at the same time, or the half hug, where the greeters stand shoulder to shoulder and put an arm around each other’s shoulder, without going for the full hug.
In those days, there were three potential forms of male greeting — manly nod, manly handshake, and manly handshake coupled with manly backslap, in roughly that order of ascending friendliness. The only deviation from the norm in the stilted ’70s came if you encountered a fellow college student and gave the revolutionary hippie handshake, pictured with this post, where your thumb was somehow pointing upward. The revolutionary/hip handshake fell out of fashion as quickly as ’70s hairstyles and leisure suits, however, and even if I wanted to give it in greeting I couldn’t because I don’t remember how to do it.
Acceptable forms of greeting are pretty confusing these days because there are so many options, and you don’t want to chose the wrong one and be left hanging. I guess I’ll go with the regular, firm handshake that was my grandfathers’ and father’s preferred form of greeting. It may be boring and old-fashioned, but it’s at least stood the test of time.