Monday, October 12, 2009

Let’s Shake On It

It seems like an epidemic is breaking out. It’s not H1N1, although it may be closely related. It’s a condition I’ll call handshakeicitis.

There have always been a few suffers … those who turn to Purell at slightest possibility of an open palm. But their ranks are growing rapidly since the swine flu if my experiences are any indication. In the last few weeks alone, I’ve met two victims.

First, I approached my son’s teacher at a recent open house, extending a friendly hand. She ducked aside as if I had brandished a gun. “I can’t shake your hand,” she explained. “My allergies are acting up.”

A few days later, I ran into an acquaintance at a restaurant. My hand sprung into action like a GI Joe with karate action. Once again, handshakeinteruptus. Just like the teacher, he said he was under the weather and didn’t want to spread germs.

If that’s the case, I should be thankful. But I can’t help but wonder if these people are protecting themselves from me instead of me from them!

I’m not unsympathetic. After all, I’m a hypochondriac from way back. WebMD used to be among my favorite Web sites. I don’t even want to talk about the great diabetes scare of the 80s. Yet, when it comes to handshakes, I forge fearlessly ahead. The extravert prevails over the germaphobe, hands down, so to speak.

Whether it’s fair or not, I can’t help but feel rejected by those unrequited handshakes. It leaves me hollow, like a guy with a bad pickup line on Ladies Night.

Dr. Keith Ablow of Fox News says it OK to shake hands, even with the swine flu threat. He says we need human touch now more than ever. So follow my lead. Get a grip! Don’t be afraid of a hearty handshake.

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