Wordy Wednesday: The Fickle Fist Bump

I am the generation of natural affection between friends. It wasn't uncommon when I was a teenager to see friends give each other a hug. It was ok to tell your friend that you loved them and everyone understood there was a far cry between the "in love" kind of love and the "you're my best friend in the whole world" kind of love. Nowadays for the fear of being misread, we've adopted the impersonal and rather awkward fist bump.

The fist bump appears in that ever uncomfortable moment when no one knows whether to hug, half-hug, or shake hands. It is expressed between teenage boys who want to acknowledge, "Hey, you're cool" but won't ever express feelings verbally. It appears when bosses and coaches want to replace the vintage "high five" with a "Way to Go" fist acknolwedgement. And it appears between two people meeting for the first time, who have either never been introduced to the handshake (think younger generation) or have long dismissed the older routines.

Like the first kiss, the fist bump is awkward and uncomfortable. There's the "hit and miss" between the giver and receiver when only part of the first fist makes contact with the second fist. Where you're left wondering if you go for a "do over" or leave it hanging as is. Is it as "cool" if business is left unfinished?

How about the confusing first relationship, when you're tring to determine how you really feel about this person? Does this person deserve a fist bump or are they only a handshake kind of person? How do I handle it if they want a fist bump, and I'm not ready to commit? The pressure is on to quickly determine if the person is worthy enough for your fist or not.

And then there's the unbalanced relationship when one person's fist is a little more aggressive than the other person's fist. Where one person's fist is bruised in the exchange but no one acknowledges that it didn't work out perfectly and they both leave quickly, one quietly nursing their wounds.

Then there's the "I'm just not that into you" response where you come at someone with your fist, and they firmly offer you their hand. Nothing like the humiliation of public rejection to make you feel uncool and unwanted.

There's also the over compensated fist bump in which elaborate choreography ensues after the intial fist bump, leaving you feeling as if you failed your tryout for "Fist Bumping with the Stars."

And does anyone else recognize that a fist bump is simply a controlled punch coming at you in slow-motion speed?

Now I'm all for showing affection through touch, but I'd happily return to the old-fashioned handshake where I know I can hold the person's attention by gently cradling their hand between my own. More intimate and friendly the handshake clearly communicaties, "I'm totally willing to touch you." More like an equal partnership where everyone knows the commitment level, the old-fashioned handshake is perfect for first meetings, congratulations, and even the occasional "I think you're great." Join me in the handshake evolution where we go from the awkwardness of punching each other to the softer, more loving action of holding hands.

[Sorry. Couldn't resist.}


  1. This is EXACTLY what I was telling my family when I refused to fist bumpt at the dinner table...it started with my son and moved around the table. Hate it...can't explain why but I just can't stand it. You said it so much better!

  2. I totally understand. I can readily admit that when I meet a new person, I will offer a hand, not a fist. Thanks for sharing.


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