If the World Series taught me anything, it’s that it’s no longer enough to hit a homer and run the bases. Then you also have to run the gauntlet of congratulation. The friendly pound on the back doesn’t cut it anymore. In olden days, perhaps, they shook hands. Nineteenth-century sluggers in their knickers probably made a stockinged leg, popped a little bow and doffed their caps. Wasn’t that long ago you could count on a nice succession of high-fives, whack whack whack whack whack. You’d have the whole batting order to recover the feeling in your hand. Probably a couple innings at least.
Ah, simpler times. Now you need to ace a cognitive test. Man woman person camera TV. Your entire team has lined up outside the dugout and every one of them has his own signature of appreciation. Do they make them up on the spot? Or does every player develop his own and expect his teammates to remember it? The first baseman starts you off with a short hop and raised-elbow collision. Right field follows up with a fist-bump fireworks explosion. Shortstop favors the right arm arched over the back in a mutual quick thump. Third base goes retro with a sly snail handshake. Catcher executes a double-hop with glancing high hip. By the time you have pinballed through the lineup and the batboy shows up, he’s left doing a Tik Tok dance by himself even though he practiced in front of the mirror all week.
This is not merely a celebration of athletic prowess and excellence. This is a celebration of young, bouncy brains, not merely capable of homering in the World Series but completely unaware of their inevitable future senescence. Bless their pimpled hearts.
I’d be in trouble. It’s a lot to remember when you don’t have the greatest remembery to begin with. I mean, Yes, these men are all under thirty, which is barely post-fetal, but I can’t even be counted on to come up with my friends’ names on short notice when I need to make introductions. I totally know who they are, but my brain is all “Access denied.”
Followed by “Try again later, like 3am.”
Used to be you didn’t need to remember that much about a person. People were polite by default. You didn’t need to know how much damage you were causing them—if you wounded them emotionally, they didn’t let you know. You didn’t even need to keep track of their birthdays—you just needed to know which of your friends were going to be all bent out of shape if you didn’t remember their birthdays, which was a smaller number, and stick those on your calendar. Then you could either send a card or decide to cut them loose due to the high-maintenance thing. You didn’t have to keep track of their political views. There were no social media. You might have a notion they didn’t vote your way, but it didn’t solidify into a lard of horror. You could remain friends.
You could invite people over for dinner without knowing what might give them three-day diarrhea or stop their hearts. You could just plate up whatever you wanted to. Could be they hated certain foods, but they wouldn’t tell you. People didn’t object. Life was simple. Heck. People used to watch you track dog shit on your shoes into their houses and light up a ciggie, and say “Oh! Okay then.”
Now you have to go over your invite list and figure out: No wheat there. No dairy there. No peanuts for God’s sake. Meat? No. This is not difficult, mind you. There are a million ways to make food and most of them are fantastic. But still. You didn’t use to have to anticipate a trip to the ER before making dinner.
You used to get by with an educated guess about a person’s pronouns.
You used to either call people in real time or send them a postcard. You didn’t need to keep track of whether a certain individual answers texts, or prefers iMessage, or email, or voicemail, or WhatsApp, or something I haven’t heard of yet.
You, one hundred percent, did not need to know your teammates’ preferred choreography to avoid being clotheslined when you went for a low-five and met a high-forearm.
And maybe that’s okay. Sometimes in life you’re going to go for that low-five and you’ll wake up later, not sure where you are. But that’s baseball, and that’s life. You didn’t know where you were anyway.
At my age, when someone sticks out their hand in my direction, I automatically go in for the handshake. I was a little taken aback when a salesperson came up with a fist bump. He must have registered my surprise, as he proceeded to walk me through it. I KNOW what a fist bump is, and if I knew it was coming I could do it. I just don’t expect a middle-aged sales person to offer one to a sixty-something woman who just bought a vacuum cleaner from him. It’s like some social version of rock-paper-scissors.
That’s exactly what it’s like. I used to have a friend back in the ‘Seventies who used to come up to people with his hand out and say “Hi! I’m Matt. I shake regular.”
I thought I was the only one. It’s comforting to know that I’m not. I once, years ago in college, had to introduce two people whom I had known for at least a month, and couldn’t come up with either of their names. My memory for names never got better.
My memory for names and addresses is world-class, because I’ve seen them in print (same ability applies to my spelling), but if I met my postal customers somewhere other than their houses, I couldn’t come up with their names at all. People must stand next to their address numbers, please.
Whew. At least Covid has kept me from having to touch anybody any which way..
What if they bring back The Bump?
You watched a sports-ball event?
Always watch the World Series! And a lot of the pennant races. I loooove baseball but that’s as much as I’ll watch if it’s not in person.
Which reminds me….Ma Downs (born in 1920) taught me that shaking hands (or not) was always an option for a woman and therefore I should wait until a woman extended her hand. I suppose that died a more than a few decades ago? Does anyone have any remembrance of that?
And more generally, are kids taught *how* to shake hands? I seem to remember being coached to (a) turn to face the person directly and squarely (b) put feet together (c) stand up straight (d) look at the person (not down or sideways) (e) extend hand and shake. And in a more business-like or more formal setting, the handshake would be accompanied by an almost imperceptible bow — or slight nod of the head.
Oh dear, I know this is digressing from ball players fist-bumping…..but whatever happened to the custom of standing up as a sign of respect when someone (older/wiser/socially or institutionally higher-ranking) entered a room?
Does all this make you think I should just be carted off to Tara???
No, it makes me love you all the more. And Ma Downs was a formidable force.
Ed- I have the same “remembery” …….. thanks for that refresher
Yeah, kids these days, their clothes, their hair, music, and their choreographed fist bumps and handshakes. It’s just….
Get off my lawn.
I’m in the south. We hug. But there are degrees of hugginess. I just wait for the other person to approach and hope to respond appropriately. It’s kind of odd for those of us not from the south. (Is “south” supposed to be capitalized?)
I capitalize it. We do a lot of hugging around here too. Complete strangers. I’m sure I’ve offended a number of them.
Seems to me the lineup has become too time consuming, why not just stick with the lineup of highfives? As for the rest of it, LIFE has become too time consuming when you have to go through all that just to have friends and may have them to dinner once in a while. This is why I live alone and don’t have parties. Apart from the lack of space. We have family get togethers in a local park instead. Everybody brings food and what you don’t like, you don’t eat.
What’s winter like?
What’s the World Series?
Well, first there’s Mercury, then Venus, then…
I miss shaking hands (casualty of Covid, alas). Loved teh ritual in Japan and Vietnam that accompanied presenting a business card, shaking hands, bending to right degree of lowness/highness. That’ll make you use yer noggin
I am destined to fail there.
A few decades pre-covid, a creep where I worked who outranked me by several dick-lengths shook my hand and kept squeezing until something in my hand went *pop*. My best reaction that would not get me fired was to display absolutely no discomfort, so I did that. Some years later the sexual harassment file HR kept on him grew thick enough to collapse somebody’s in-box and they finally fired him, but I suspect the trigger was not the weight of that file but rather the fact that his projects weren’t bringing in enough bucks anymore. No, I don’t believe in karma.
Doggone. If you knew ahead of time that was going to happen, you could shriek “ACK! ACK! Embolism!” and keel over.
All my fantasies about what I could have done end with things that would definitely got me fired. Your idea is better.
My fantasy would be to carry a razor blade in my pocket at all times. Then, when he comes over and may shake my hand, insert razor blade between two fingers and shake his hand even harder than he shakes mine. “Oh, dear! How did THAT get there?” Oh, I would have been SO fired. And probably sued. Good thing my fantasies stay in a “safe place.”
I just had a good one too, but I deleted it. It was too good.
Winter is like your early fall and late spring usually with plenty of sunshine and no icy snow, but this year it was very wet and cold. Still had some sunshine with a bit of warmth to it.
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