Handshakes, from a Latino's perspective

Post Modern Handshakes 101
By Al Carlos Hernandez, Herald de Paris, July 26, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO – Back in the day, handshakes for men were a simple procedure. You stuck out your hand, they stuck out their hand and you shook it. But as post modern culture evolved, your handshake became an expression of how hip or square you envisioned yourself to be.

The first incarnation of a subcultural handshake was during the days when you would grab the base of someone’s thumb and they would grab yours. You would move it back and forth like you were both churning butter. This was called a “soul shake.” For Latinos this evolved into soul shake, regular shake, then soul shake again. If you did it wrong or tried to do a formal shake when someone was trying to soul you up, you were considered “Hispanic.” This type of hand jive decorum has caused many a sprained wrist . . . and an occasional stolen wrist watch.

Handshaking is a tradition based on showing the other person that you are not armed and are not afraid to make physical contact. I have noticed, however, that some men have very passive limp-handed handshakes. I believe the reason for this is that crushing someone’s hand is usually taken as an act of aggression and a limp hand poses no threat, unless it is accompanied by a wink and a phone number.
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