This guest post is authored by our son Jonathan. With a family wedding looming, it seems especially appropriate.
We all can recall those tough teenage years of bumbling our way through times of change and trying to “stay in the groove.” Unfortunately, some awkward situations continue to arise throughout our lives.
We also are living in a time when “in the groove” can change very quickly, and for some reason I never get notifications in the mail like everybody else. Perhaps my location on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere has something to do with it.
One thing that seems to change all the time is the acceptable greeting and show of affection. When I was in my formative years I learned in the unspoken manual of manhood that showing any sort of emotion was unacceptable and would put a monstrous blot on your man card. So when you greeted another bro you had to keep a very sober, almost bored expression and hope it would leave him in awe of your smooth, natural manliness.
This expression was usually accompanied by an incomplete sentence that must include the word man. If you really wanted to top it off, you would punctuate it with a fist bump. But culture changes and what was acceptable when I was ten just doesn’t cut it anymore.
The fact that I hang out with a wide variety of people and cultures doesn’t help. I’ll see an old friend at a get-together and when I go for the traditional fist bump, he’ll extend his hand for a high five, which ends up with the resemblance of my giving him a terminated right hook to the gut while he stands with a beggar-like outstretch hand. I then quickly try to correct the situation by giving him a high five…but he switches to my fist bump.
Someone watching from a distance could mistake this procedure for a greeting of some secret society. In the end I just give him a high five which I almost miss, so it’s more like a high three. I can never aim high fives for some reason.
Things get even more hairy when it comes to hugs. Maybe it’s my family’s stoic German roots. Around our house you only get a hug if you’re family and someone just died, you graduated, or will be taking a three-year expedition through the Northwest Territories alone.
From what I could tell, things weren’t all that different anywhere else. But again, culture has failed to send me any notifications of change.
Apparently giving someone a hug now is acceptable regardless of situation or relation. The problem is, I still never know when to expect it. It often ends up in a bumbling embrace with an expression on my face not unlike that of someone who has just been shot at but still doesn’t know where it’s coming from. To this day I still don’t know how to give a proper hug.
I have found that you can get a great deal of amusement from watching hunting videos. The situation is always the same. The hunter shoots a large trophy animal and as they all arrive at the animal the air is almost electric with excitement. The hunter then enters a very dangerous mode.
He suddenly feels obligated to give some sort of handshake, hug or other expression of that sort to the guide, the camera man, his brother, his dad, and all next of kin within a three-mile radius.
There’s always at least one guy there who obviously lives on a remote gravel road too, so it always ends with an element of awkwardness.
If you’re like me and are tired of providing the amusement, just forget all the etiquette and go with the fist bump.
What about you? Any suggestions for greetings? Tell us about them below.