Keep your hands to yourself

One of the main messages surrounding the coronavirus outbreak is that hands are nasty. Your hands. Everybody else’s hands. And especially any hands that were at CPAC.

So, wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Don’t high-five anyone. Don’t play thumb wars. And, above all, don’t shake hands. With anyone. Ever.

That last little bit of advice is a little tricky for most folks. When I was a young man, the importance of a handshake and doing it right was drilled into me. Be firm, but don’t squeeze. Look them in the eyes while you shake their hands. And, hand-buzzers are never appropriate or funny. Yes, I’m sure.

I’ve been shaking hands for nearly half a century. The day I was born, I shook the doctor’s hand and said, “Thanks for helping with the move, doc.”

“No problem, kid. Here’s your bill.”

Handshakes are deeply woven into the fabric of human society. Just think of all the famous handshakes in history — Sadat and Begin with President Carter at the signing of the Camp David Accords, Elvis and President Nixon in the Oval Office, SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs when SpongeBob got the fry cook job at the Krusty Krab. The historical handshake images are endless.

Even after the admonishment came out about shaking hands, I’ve shaken a few. It’s a hard habit to break, as Chicago sang. It’s just extremely weird for me to be introduced to good folks and respond with a “Yo, what’s up?” head bob, a military salute or a Vulcan salutation a la Spock from “Star Trek.”

Besides, I can only do the Vulcan salutation with my left hand, which is just the opposite of how real Vulcans do it and might even be offensive in some corners of the universe. And I feel inappropriate giving a salute when I haven’t served in the military — although, as my wife will attest, when I am asked at stores if I qualify for a military discount, I always tell them I was in a militant branch of the Cub Scouts and single-handedly captured a pack of Webelos. (In case you’re wondering, that’s “insufficient.”)

Maybe Michael Jackson — hee-hee — was onto something when he was wearing that one glove back in the 1980s. I bet that was his shaking hand. Quite frankly, if I met a guy who played with the Elephant Man’s bones and whose best friends were Webster and Bubbles the Chimp, I’d wouldn’t shake his hand, gloved or ungloved.

“Beat it, weirdo!”

Speaking of songs, a lot of people suggest singing a tune such as the “Happy Birthday song while you wash your hands to make sure you wash them long enough. However, to be on the safe side, I suggest you wash them to “Hey Jude” or if you think you might have actually touched someone infected with coronavirus, please consider washing them to the full tune of Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant.” (If you’ve never heard that classic, check it out next time you have 18 and a half minutes of nothing to do. In a world where folks won’t sit through a 6-second YouTube ad before watching a video, I suspect very few folks not named Arlo are making time for that song these days.)

Another way we might discouraging hand-shaking and hand-touching is by banning a few songs from the radio — including The Beatles’ “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” Bon Jovi’s “Lay Your Hands on Me,” and The Thompson Twins’ “Lay Your Hands on Me.” I came of age in the 1980s, but I don’t remember folks laying their hands on folks enough to have two whole songs titled “Lay Your Hands on Me.”

To be on the safe side, perhaps we should temporarily change the national anthem. No one can sing it correctly anyway. I suggest The Georgia Satellites’ “Keep Your Hands to Yourself.” Not only is it a good message right now, but any song that begins “I got a little change in my pocket goin’ jing-a-ling-a-ling,” is sure to get folks singing along even if they have zero musical ability. I can attest to that.

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