April 25, 2008

First Person:

Don’t leave handshake hanging

By Al Carlos Hernandez

Have you ever had the experience when someone very interesting or attractive is smiling and waving at you, and it is clear that you don’t know them but would like too? You look around in disbelief as they get closer, not knowing what to do?

You have a spilt second to decide Yes I’m going with it, or No I’m going to shy away, quite possibly offending someone who looks incredibly enough, excited to see you.

Going for it, you gather your courage, smile your best smile, and say Hi, and or extend your hand to shake or open your arms for a hug, and a second later you realize that they know the guy or gal behind you? Humbling isn’t it?

Don’t you hate it when you extend your hand to shake and the person is unaware that you are doing so, or is blatantly rude ignoring you outstretched hand? There should be a time limit for you standing there like a martire d, hoping to get your flesh pressed.

During thi s scenario, you have to decide when is it appropriate to pull the hand back in, or, if the hand has been out there too long you have to wait for the shake or slap the person on the shoulder.

If you are the non violent type, the best move there is to pretend like you are checking your nails. An older more tested technique is to quickly pull you hand back pretending to smooth back your hair.

This technique can be a socially offensive weapon, when political zealots and younger brothers stick out their hand for you to shake only to pull it back at the last second smoothing back their hair leaving you humiliated at solemn family gatherings. After many year of falling for that ploy, I’ve countered with a preemptive hug, and whispered threat.

The phantom handshake is especially humiliating when you have your arm shoulder high, thumb pointed towards you hoping to do a really cool Viet Nam Vet soul shake “dap”. If the diss’ goes down, you can clean up by rubbing the tip of your nose with your knuckles. I think it happens to American Idol judge Randy Jackson allot.

The process of being caught saying Hi to the wrong person, or trying to shake hands with someone who won’t cooperate, is called being “left hanging”.

The antidote for being left hanging is to “play if off”.

Needless to say like most of my Biker Brothers, I’ve blown it in most major social situations, sometimes doing as simple as failing to remove my light green tinted KD small horned rimmed road mode glasses off indoors, inciting even the squarest among us to try to pound fist me.

Things get exponentially more complicated when you have to meet some celebrity, or a high powered executive that can make or break an important project.

People who are somebody’s or at least think they are somebody makes themselves unapproachable by a certain body language, and often times restraining orders. I guess they don’t want kooks hounding them or writing columns about their idiosyncrasies.

Some stars won’t shake your hand or acknowledge your presence, unless you are properly introduced, then your resume read, so they can gauge your usefulness to them.

Others shake languidly looking the other way. Some music people seem to leave people hanging on purpose as a power trip, like they are too hip for the room.

The worse offenders are local TV folks or even less attractive radio people, you need to remember that some entertainers have a face for radio.

I found that being left hanging having to play it off is worth it. It is important in these cold technocratic days to take the risk in making some new friends, because in the end the quality of your life is gauged by the relationships you cherish.

Al Carlos Hernandez writes from Hollywood.

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