Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Time Magazine reports that sports doctors are questioning the palm-to-palm tradition. They feel any shaking of hands is increasing the risk of getting the swine flu.

I'm not a sports fan. JC is. So I watch sometimes to gain "wife points"-- conversing about things that interest him, celebrating with him when his team wins.

Players in professional leagues, as well as high schools have contracted the virus. Medical advisors are suggesting fist-bumping, or just nodding at your opponent, saying "nice game."

Nice idea but I'm not sure verbal utterances will work -- in their dugouts, their locker rooms, they, sweat, cough, and on the field they do a lot of nose to nose, inhaling, exhaling -- serious heavy breathing. And spitting -- spitting and chewing -- a bulging cheek seems to be a baseball tradition.

The Time article notes that NBA players are washing their hands more often and sharing fewer towels. Maybe because wives and girlfriends are nagging -- and maybe, just maybe, a new tradition has been born.)

Summer of 2008, in St. Paul, Minnesota, before Obama went on to accept the nomination, Michelle Obama daintily knocked knuckles with her husband.

Eye-brows were raised. It's a hand gesture that's associated with beer commercials, and the seventies "Superhero" cartoon (I didn't read comics back then, so I looked it up) -- the "Superfriends" touched knuckles and cried, "Wonder Twin Powers, activate!" before they morphed into animals or ice sculptures.

I also learned that in 1970, NBA players on the Baltimore Bullets occasionally bumped fists. And Michael Jordan fist-bumped sometimes in the 90's. But it wasn't really noted till the television show, Deal or No Deal, started in 2005. The host, Howie Mandel (a "germophobic," he admitted during a show), adopted the gesture as a friendly way to avoid his contestants' germs.

Anyway, MILLIONS of people saw the Obamas bumping knuckles. The Washington Post called it "the fist bump heard 'round the world."

The words used to describe fist-bumping are varied -- the New York Times described it as a "closed-fisted high-five." Others called it "the fist bump of hope." the power five," "fist pound," "knuckle bump," "Quarter Pounder" and "dap."

So is it IN? (I can't picture myself first-bumping anyone.)

I never high-fived anyone, even back in the fifties when low and high-fives were used by athletes for celebrating teamwork and triumph. (See my 9/11 post, "Hi Fives.")

I do remember in the nineties, when we were seeing headlines about Magic Johnson and AIDS -- how ultra cautious everyone got about injuries, and their gay friends. No one shook hands; show biz folks did air kisses -- no mouth kisses, no hugging.

Well, nowadays, among Generation X parents and their kids, there's a cellphone salute -- you can high-five on your cell phone (slap the speakers), or you and the caller can simultaneously type "5."

Hmm ...

Maybe we need to invent a code to symbolize the bump -- @@@'s? Or maybe a click of the tongue? Some sort of boop-boop-be-doop sound might do it.

I like what Obama said about the fist bump -- "It captures what I love about my wife," he explained to NBC's Brian Williams. "That for all the hoopla, I'm her husband, and sometimes we'll do silly things."

Ah ha -- "Silly thing" plan formulating: Since our National High-Five Day is the third Thursday in April every year, maybe we should make Thanksgiving the day on the calendar for making the fist bump, official.

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