Very Nice to Meet You

It was inevitable. I knew that eventually it was going to happen; we all did. And sure enough, last Saturday, my latest nightmare came to fruition.

It seemed like a typical July Saturday, and if 2020 hadn't signed a deal with the devil, then it probably would have been. My dad had booked us a tee time at Lehigh Country Club the night before, and I was looking forward to a day on the golf course elusively improving my lies and lying slightly about my score.

"Mark me down for a six." That's my way of saying I actually got an eight, but don't you fucking dare tell anyone else. I'm an athlete, damnit.

If you've never heard of Lehigh County Club, it's as snobby as it sounds. People named Chester and Whitaker belong to Lehigh. They have estates, not houses; au pairs, not babysitters. These are fraternity legacies and third-generation douchebags. I think most of the members actually think "Pool Boy" is the dude's real name. Either way, the manager is about to get a nasty letter written in calligraphy if he doesn't hurry up with my 11 AM gin and tonic. Make it a double.

Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit. The majority of LCC's patrons aren't half-bad, although it isn't a stretch to say that they have bit of play money. These are executives, business owners, and elected officials we are talking about. Doctors, lawyers, and engineers. The who's who of the Lehigh Valley, the people you want to know. When they say, "jump," you say, "on who's head?"

I'm burying the lead, but the plant is worth the payoff. As I strapped my clubs onto the back of my cart, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed one of these big-wigs slowly walking toward me. I've never met him, but he was easily recognizable, even from a distance. The small crowd around me followed suit, stopping in their tracks upon awareness. You could almost feel his presence coming forward. He is one of the biggest names in the Valley, if not the biggest, and while it may sound hyperbolic, is someone who could make or break you in my town. An Allentown A-lister, if you will.

Keep in mind, I'm a young attorney who just moved back to my hometown, desperately looking for a way to make my mark. My father had, by chance, met this particular executive once prior, and after they extended pleasantries and my father mentioned that I was his son, the A-lister turned his attention to me.

"Very nice to meet you, young man," he said as he extended his arm for a handshake.

Instantly, I froze up. I've been a caged animal for months, now attempting to readjust to society on the fly with conflicting guidance from multiple directions. If I shake his hand, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who recently declared the death of the handshake, might shoot me with a stun-gun from the bushes. If I refuse, I come off as rude or strange, while simultaneously ruining any chance of professional assistance I was hoping to garner. Or was it all a test? Why didn't he attempt to shake my dad's hand moments earlier? As I pondered his request, a million thoughts raced through my mind.

With COVID-19 restrictions easing, we are all attempting to get back to our daily lives. Nonetheless, the idea of pre-pandemic normalcy is still seemingly galaxies away. Potential political agendas aside, the community at large is conscious to the health hazards and transmission rates surrounding the coronavirus, especially for the older generation, which includes the extended hand in my immediate purview. We've accepted gloves and masks as outfit necessities, and "social distancing" has become a phrase used every third sentence. Dr. Fauci publicly stated that we should never shake hands again, but a world with no handshakes just doesn't seem right.

What happened to keeping your word, and standing behind it with a sincere handshake? The gentleman's agreement is now gone. Bring in the lawyers, 50-page contracts, and red tape.

How else are you going to greet your daughter's new biker boyfriend? Nothing says "I'm fucking watching you" like a death stare and a firm handshake before he takes her to Arby's. You can't give off that fear with a damn elbow bump. The return handshake from this Brett Michaels stunt double speaks volumes, as well. We're supposed to just let that go by the wayside?

Imagine ending a job interview with double-guns. Nothing screams I'm unemployable more than shooting finger-guns at your interviewers after you just botched 20 minutes of softball questions. I think we're going to go in another direction, Peter. Though, you'd be great for a Spaghetti Western.

Am I even able to spin a female counterpart on the dance floor anymore? If I have to resort to the fucking robot, there's no way I'm not gong home alone. What about more intricate handshakes that go beyond the typical palm-to-palm contact? NBA players seemingly have a different hand-slapping pregame ritual with each member of their team. This isn't just a sign of encouragement, these are legitimate bonding techniques.

Think about all of the famous handshakes in history. Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee embraced in 1865, resulting in Lee's surrender and the end of the Civil War. Harry Truman, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin did the same in 1945 at the Potsdam Conference, in what looked like they were setting up for a game of Red Rover. On that note, if I can't play Red Rover anymore I'm going to flip out. I bet you're going to try to tell me no more thumb wars either, right?

How are we supposed to replace something so engrained in our culture? The elbow-bump is fucking weird, and about as professional as a dead baby joke. A head nod is too subtle, and if you try to exaggerate it, then it's suddenly bobblehead night. And you can only do the fake handshake hair comb maneuver every so often, though dads everywhere are rejoicing that it's again turning mainstream. Health conscious and hilarious? Sign me up.

It was at that moment that I decided to reincarnate the once-dead handshake. Pundits be damned, theories be forgotten. If a man of such importance holds out his hand, it is only just that I return with with an extended arm of my own. This isn't just practicability or civility, this is history. This is a way of life. As I confidently went to greet one of Lehigh Valley's finest with a strong handshake, I notice he's no longer there. He's on the first green. I've been standing here for 10 minutes. I fucking hate the coronavirus.

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