05 May 2009

An idea whose time has come...

Mexican people, like people everywhere, like to shake hands. It is an important social ritual. When my wife and I meet a family we know at the supermarket everyone has to shake hands, even the kids. After the first round of handshakes and abrazos (hugs) and besos (kisses on the cheek) we get down to business and inquire about everyone's health and how they are doing and how the kids are doing in school, etc. These are not quick meetings. They usually take about a half an hour while we are blocking a busy aisle of the store. Ni modo (it doesn't matter), these things are socially important. Despedidas (goodbyes) are also long drawn out affairs. We all begin the despedida by shaking hands and hugging again and then one of the women (usually) mentions something else and that takes another five minutes to sort out and discus and then we all shake hands again and one of the men will say, "We must get together soon" and that sparks another discussion about when and where. Finally we all shake hands again and wave good bye and drag ourselves away from one another. Needless to say, this does not bode well for avoiding person to person disease transmission. I have always wondered about that. How much disease is spread by people just being nice to each other?

Thanks to the leadership and courage of Barack and Michelle Obama and the "fist bump" we now have an option recommended by Dr. Sanjay Gupta called the "elbow bump". It makes a lot of sense. When two people meet they put their right arm in the position of a chicken wing and touch elbows. What a great idea! I have been doing that for several days now and it never fails to evoke a smile and a nervous giggle from my victims. There are some protocol details yet to be worked out but I am sure that won't be a problem except perhaps in the Catholic Church. It remains to be seen if Pope Benedict will go along with the elbow bump instead of the traditional handshake of the "Paz del Señor" (Peace of the Lord) during the mass. Then there is the business protocol. Instead of saying "Can we shake on that?" we will have to say something like "Can we bump on that?". Just think of all the possibilities and the next time that you see someone picking their nose or scratching their butt one minute and then reach out to shake someone else's hand the next, think about it some more.

9 comments:

glorv1 said...

I have a thing about shaking hands, although I do it when needed. I too was raised with the usual hugging and kissing, but as I got older I didn't care to do that anymore. I thought about sickness and what people might have and also thought about if that person had rubbed his/her nose or something else before shaking hands. I try not to shake hands anymore. I'm not rude about it but I think I will try the elbow bump. Sounds good.
Aren't you glad we can't catch anything from each other? Opening mouth and sneezing. ::scratching nose:: lol Take care (breathing in your mail lololo) bye.

YayaOrchid said...

Your method sounds good to me Bob!

bob cox said...

Con el fiebre marrano...
ni besos... ni mano.

with th swine flu fever..
neither kisses or handshakes.

Chrissy and Keith said...

I favor Belly Busting. well, maybe with the right company.

Constantino said...

Well Bob, it will take several generations to curtail this custom, after all people still believe in throwing salt over their left shoulder and I just stopped wearing my garlic necklace last year....

Felipe said...

Constantino, this custom of kissing and hand-shaking, etc., will endure forever. And annoy me forever. Such is life.

Amanda said...

Aside from the sickness being transmitted Im an American of action. This whole taking and hour for hellos and goodbyes is very hard for me to get use to. I have seriously tried and am much calmer than I was 10mo ago but I still find myself getting frustrated by the time the second round of handshakes comes long. I even ask myself, Amanda what are you in such a hurry for this is important to these people. And still I want to roll my eyes and huff. (but I don't I smile and shake, and kiss)

1st Mate said...

Now is this going to be the same elbow you sneeze into?

Suzanne said...

After 18 days of novenas in our neighborhood, it began with teary hugs and kisses on the cheek to wearing face masks (well, some did), to standing 3 feet apart and pretending to shake hands and blaming the government for getting in the way of normal activities such as this, but the 3 foot handshakes got good laughs out of everyone. Two days later, it was back to normal with the older people saying ni modo, the younger not even mentioning it and the kids lined up for their turn at a handshake or kiss.

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.