Trend alert! Handshakes are over, baby! So sayeth Dr. Fauci, whose pronouncements and commandments have continued to grow in influence over the last month. If Dr. Fauci didn’t say it, I don’t wanna hear it. Word on the street is that Dr. Fauci has grown so powerful that he’s choosing the theme of the next Met Gala. (That theme is: Whatever you have lying around your house!) Fauci appeared on the Wall Street Journal podcast this week and handed down his shake up of societal norms. “I don’t think we should ever shake hands ever again, to be honest with you,” he said. Wow, Dr. Fauci is tired of us touching our dirty mitts together and he is here to put a stop to it. If anyone can eliminate the admittedly strange ritual of clasping paws and jiggling them, it’s Fauci. I mean, let’s be honest, the only people who actually know what’s going on in the country these days are Fauci, Dr. Birx, Dr. Birx’s magic scarves, and the friend of your uncle’s coworker who keeps sending out unsourced text message updates. So, when Fauci says to keep your dukes down, that’s one quarter of the new shadow parliament speaking and you have to listen.
But how will we greet each other without a handshake? How will we signal to each other “we are in the same space and we are acknowledging each other’s presence and now we are beginning to meet and now we are ending the meeting”? Is our post-social distancing era to be populated by people milling about coffee shops and conference rooms aimlessly, unsure of whether they are having an interaction or not? Not on my watch! (I am the friend of your uncle’s coworker, by the way, so I do have authority here. Also, I would like to know why you haven’t forwarded the chain letter I sent. 36 recipes could be yours!)
Herewith, some gentle suggestions for ways we can replace the disgusting scourge of handshaking:
A gentle boop on the nose
Oh, so precious. So loving! Can you imagine leaving an important business meeting discussing stonks and bernds with Mayor McCheese and Logan Roy and gently booping them both on the nose as a sign of respect and good faith?
Like a college junior who has just returned from a year abroad, we must replace handshakes with an ever-more-complex dance of air-kissing. How many kisses? More than you think, every single time! How far from the face? Varying distances! An air kiss at six feet? Sure! This is a good handshake replacement because, like the shake, in the wrong hands it’s an instrument of chaos and confusion.
Which TikTok dances, you ask? All of them! In the future, we will all separate into different houses ruled over by TikTok stars and we will signal our allegiances by performing TikTok dances in battles when we encounter members of rival houses. Somehow this seems the most likely outcome.
No to handshake; yes to Harlem Shake
A throwback! When greeting someone, the new custom will be to freeze and then to quickly change into strange costume and do a nonsensical dance for a little bit longer than everyone wants.
A dramatic fake slap from Dynasty
Nothing says “I am a business person and I am doing business things here in this business place” better than a well-choreographed Joan Collins slap.
Faking a phone call
You know how when you’re walking down the street and you see someone you know but you don’t really feel like talking or maybe you’re too far to actually talk without effort, so you pull out your phone and just start talking into it? Why don’t we adopt that for every interaction? Being a human is inherently awkward. Lean into it.
Looking each other in the eye and saying “That’s far enough partner; don’t come a step closer.”
Paranoia: the new politeness!
A duel? I dunno.
Let’s go really old school with it. True, this seems a bit too elaborate for most brief social interactions and it’s more hostile than regular society demand, but without handshakes we’re spiraling.
The flying bullet dance from the duel in Hamilton
Is this something?! In Hamilton when Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr shoot at each other in the duel (spoiler alert), a dancer performs the trajectory of Burr’s bullet. It’s very beautiful! Let’s do that when we see friends!
Performing the entirety of “Cups”
BYOC (bring your own cups)
Performing the a capella version of “Call Your Girlfriend” that Maya Rudolph and Emma Stone did on Maya Rudolph’s woefully short-lived variety show
Similar premise to “Cups” but even better because of the presence of Maya Rudolph!
Performing the entirety of the “Call Your Girlfriend” dance
BYOWFS (bring your own white fuzzy sweater.)
Sniffing each other like cats, not like real cats but rather like the cats from Cats
Scientists suggest that our timeline irrevocably jumped the shark the minute that Cats was unleashed on to the world, so it makes sense that the only way to set ourselves on a less chaotic path is to adopt the digitally-furred habits of the titular characters. Listen to Dr. Fauci, everyone: stop shaking hands and make Jellicle Choices!