September 21st, 2006

Previous Entry Next Entry
01:37 am - Macho-Jitsu, Lesson One: the Handshake
The vast majority of girls (and, sadly, all too many guys) don't really understand the handshake. It's not just a completely empty little ritual where you stick your hand in somebody else's for a second and sort of aimlessly move it around because, you know, that's what people do. It's a form of communication, and sometimes even a bit of a test. It can be subtle... or it can be really unsubtle. But there's maybe more to it than you think. There are any number of gradations in between, but these are the four basic handshakes:

  1. The Dead Fish. This is the guy (or girl, for those girls who use male-type handshakes - badly) who just puts a completely limp hand in yours and maybe moves it up and down a bit. This is totally Not Cool. If you're doing it, you probably don't understand the handshake to begin with, so it's probably not really your fault. But you're really disgusting the people whose hand you shake who know better. Trust me on this. It's bad.

  2. The Firm Shake. In this handshake, you take the other person's hand in a firm but not crushing grip - say, the kind of grip you'd use on a screwdriver when attacking a fairly tight screw. If the other person's grip is a little weaker, you'll ease off on your own a bit to match; if the other person's grip is a little stronger, you'll tighten yours a bit to match. This is the basic friendly handshake. It says, "I am worthy of your respect, and I see that you are worthy of my respect."

  3. The Strength Contest. This one starts out just like the Firm Shake, except that each party then gradually ratchets the grip strength up either until it's clear who's the stronger, or until neither can grip any stronger without obvious red-faced exertion. Onlookers will generally have no idea what's going on, but the people actually shaking hands get a firm measure of each other's strength, without actually trying to hurt one another. As soon as the outcome is clear, or both parties have reached the maximum grip they can manage without totally white-knuckling, the ritual is over. This is definitely A Guy Thing, but it's still a friendly shake.

  4. The Bonecrusher. Much like the Dead Fish, people who use this one may or may not realize what asses they're making of themselves. In the Bonecrusher, every last bit of grip strength is applied right from the start, in an effort to get the better of the other party to the handshake. Even the Strength Contest doesn't go any further than it needs to to establish the relative strength of both parties - and goes slowly from a Firm Shake starting point to make sure both parties are willing to go there - but the Bonecrusher is an all-out, floor-it-right-off-the-line attempt to squash the holy fuck out of the other guy's hand.

It's amazing how much communication can go on between men in a handshake that the rest of the room never has a clue about. Like - just to f'rinstance a f'rinstance - you could meet some construction-worker dude, go for a Firm Shake / Strength Contest, but he goes for the Bonecrusher. So you grip back hard enough to keep from getting your knuckles squeezed, but, cold sober and just having met the guy, you leave it at that, and he thinks he's got the upper hand. Then several hours and several drinks go by, and you watch the construction-worker dude move from hitting shamelessly (and tactlessly) on your friend, to hitting shamelessly (and tactlessly) on your friend's roomate - because the roommate has a half-inch more chest exposed. And so when the dude leaves, and shakes your hand again, you don't let him get the jump on you - this time, you jump straight into the Bonecrusher with him - and come out on top - and you watch his eyes widen just a little bit as he realizes "holy shit, that computer guy just got the Bonecrusher on me." And nobody but the two of you has any idea that anything happened at all.


Current Music: Teddybears STHLM - Cobrastyle

(7 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture] From: clme
Date: September 21st, 2006 - 06:39 am
The computer guy stigma is really getting old too. Are we still at a period of time where 'computer guys' are thought of as pasty weaklings that shrivel in sunlight and cant lift anything heavier than a laptop? Is it that hard to believe that sometimes a guy wants to get away from his electronic gadgets and maybe go camping without his laptop?

In a time where being a geek is becoming acceptable, you would think that the old nerd stereotype would disappear.

A few weeks ago I spent a long weekend in Northern Wisconsin, and did a bit of hiking and walking. When I came back I got asked a few times "So, did you survive the hike?" or "Did you actually go out hiking or did you just sit inside on the computer all day?" A couple of people even went and asked my girlfriend if I actually went hiking, as if it wasn't something I do several times a year.

Its getting to where my own family gives me crap about being a 'computer guy'. These are all people who within the last few years have seen me baling hay, cutting trees, remodeling, hanging from rafters, or working on cars. Do they remember that? No. They remember calling me up for help on the computar machine.

At least, thats all they remember until they need help moving :)

[User Picture] From: wanton_bliss
Date: September 21st, 2006 - 12:27 pm
I prefer
5. The suckerpunch

[User Picture] From: marys_second
Date: September 21st, 2006 - 12:44 pm
I can still remember my father catching me giving a dead fish handshake at church. He yanked me out of there like I'd spit on the preacher and made sure I'd never embarrass him that way again.

[User Picture] From: discogravy
Date: September 21st, 2006 - 12:54 pm
I've intentionally given the Dead Fish occasionally specifically to offend. I'm a prick like that.

[User Picture] From: scarlett723
Date: September 22nd, 2006 - 12:13 am
I hate it when I have a firmer handshake than a guy. Oh, and congressional candidates should never, ever have a dead fish handshake, even though they often do.

[User Picture] From: lindapendant
Date: September 25th, 2006 - 12:12 pm
There is a fifth handshake, and it may not be very well known, but Robert and I were startled that both of us were aware of it.

Right after you've deployed 'The Firm Shake' with someone you'd really like to get to know better , you use the 'flip the bird' finger and lightly scratch the palm of the other person.

This is code for 'I'd really like to do naughty things to you'. Yes, it's cut to the chase and you may be considered a jerk by those in the know, but it could just as easily lead to fun and games. Even if nothing comes out of it, there's a good chance you've delivered a rush to someone who didn't expect it. And of course, if your 'prey' has no idea what it means, they certainly won't forget your face and may be inclined to spend some time figuring you out.

[User Picture] From: biggeek
Date: September 26th, 2006 - 06:56 am
There's also

5. Finger Squeeze. When the dork shaking your hand doesn't wait for you to seat your palm in theirs and he ends up awkwardly shaking your fingers. The correct recovery is for the premature squeezer to immediately disengage and re-introduce himself.

6. Cold, Clammy, Pale, Desperate Pre-Job-Interview Shake. Can be converted to Warm, Clammy, Red, Desperate Pre-Job-Interview Shake by holding your hands under scalding hot water 5 minutes before the interview.

> Go to Top