Sunday, April 10, 2016

Etiquette of the Handshake

An excellent English authority says that the fleur dus pots, the creme de la creme, the quite too-too people, do not indulge in this practice as much as the upper and lower middle classes...

Etiquette, Theory and Art of Handshaking


Why do we shake hands? No one appears to know. It does not mean much, if anything. Who has not suffered from the strong and hearty grasp of, let us fondly hope, ardent friendship, when our, perhaps, wringed hand is wrung with fervor? 

Who has not suffered from the man who, when you meet him, holds your hand as if it were a pump handle for ten minutes and will not let go? Who has not suffered from that other who will not hold on at all but allows you to do the shaking process for him? Who is unacquainted with the man with the clammy hand? Why must we shake hands with him? Yet we all do it; we dislike it; we dislike it very much, even; he sees we dislike it, that it is positively distasteful to us; yet, meet him tomorrow, and out comes his hand once more to engulf your own.

An excellent English authority says that the fleur dus pots, the creme de la creme, the quite too-too people, do not indulge in this practice as much as the upper and lower middle classes, for there every one shakes hands with every one on entering and leaving a room, on meeting in the street and on saying "good morning," "good night" or,"goodbye." It is not for a moment meant to say that the grasp of a hand is always a bore; not at all. The gentle pressure and the unmistakable grasp of love, that is handshaking; that the vapid how do's of some of the young ladies and gentlemen of today, as, with raised elbow, limp wrist and scarcely pressing fingers, they give you a sort of shake in a bored way, is absurd. 

One of the most unpleasant persons to shake hands with is the nervous man who cannot make up his mind whether to shake hands with you or not; who does not hold out his hand when you offer yours; but the moment you have withdrawn, and pocketed your hand, stuffs his out, to be again perhaps withdrawn again too soon for you to catch and shake it. This specimen may be and classed with his twin bore, the person who does not know which side of the pavement he proposes passing you upon, and who does a sort of imbecile, dodging, cavalier seul before you, in an agony of indecision. There is only one thing to be done with him, walk straight at him, and you are safe. — Los Angeles Herald, 1891

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