Thursday, May 21, 2009


I am thinking about handshakes. Three men we knew walked into the restaurant last night where we were having dinner, JW's in Carmine. One, the oldest, shook hands properly, man to man, the way I find so many do in business. I know how to shake the hand of that kind of man, with my own arthritic knobby one, but I go deep and squeeze enough to flex the protective muscle. He didn't try to win a pumping contest, either. Just nice and clean.

His son in law came next and it was limp and slightly moist. The question always rises: was it limp because I am a weak and womanish sort? Is there confusion at how one shakes such hands? Is he unaccustomed to shaking women's hands except as his mother taught him among her social friends? Is it a matter of limp character? (Negating this image is the reason for the first kind of handshake, compensatory or not, it makes an excellent impression.)

And the third, from a man who appears strong enough to hold a full bore motorcycle aloft with one hand while shaking yours with the other, and it is a curiously gentle shake, but that makes sense in the context. No doubt he has learned that a pressure normal from his perspective sends men and women alike to their knees. Men like that often have a gentle touch.

So: three men, three hands, too much revealed? Or perhaps nothing at all?


jinksy said...

I think you gleaned quite a lot... handshakes are all part of who we are, eren't they?

The Weaver of Grass said...

I am always interested in handshakes too - I hate those limp ones which make you feel you are shaking a lettuce leaf. I honestly don't know whether they are any indication of character or not. I often wonder.

Texas Legacy Lady said...

I do think handshakes tell a lot about the person offering their hand. At least I feel they give you an impression about that person.

If it is weak, I think of the person giving it as weak or that they really aren't interested in greeting you. If it is a strong handshape I perceive the person as welcoming and interested in you. A damp handshake is definitely what I would call nasty.

In Texas, I think of a handshake as a deal maker...a handshake and the deal is made. It's a Texas way of life.

I've read that handshakes may have had a beginning as a gesture of peace where people were showing they were not holding weapons. A handshake can signify so many things.

The following is a rather interesting read-

Texas Legacy Lady said...

Correct address for handshakes:

sizzie said...

Good observations, Bdogs. I agree with what has been said here and add that the eye contact that goes along with the handshake informs me about the person. Or maybe not the person, but how that person feels about that moment. (was limp guy intimdated by One for example) If the handshake is accompanied by firm eye contact with me and a verbal greeting it means a lot. If the handshaker is looking over to see the next person in line and ignoring me, even though we are shaking hands, I am put off. Good topic. Thanks for it.

Bdogs said...

Interesting observation, Sizzie, about the intimidation aspect. Quite possible.

Sydney said...

fascinating topic and you did a great job stirring my mind. I learned to give a firm handshake from someone who trained me to be an Avon door to door sales girl when I was in my teens. I have a huge palm and have always done it, years before I ever was in business.

My father was like the third guy -- at his funeral there were many stories about his imposing mitts and intimidating ways. And unlike your third guy, he did not go for gentling his clasp. Many a potential boyfriend for my two older sisters were scared off just from the power he exerted in his hands and my father probably loved that. By the time my dating years came along, he chose a new method to make suitors feel unwelcome. He wouldn't even face them... It was like being ignored by Mount Everest!