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John Bray: Handshakes, hugs and hats are perplexing

I don’t know when handshakes evolved from the standard shake used for hundreds of years to today’s wide variation of using one’s hand in greeting. All of a sudden, people of a certain age are bumping fists or knuckles, wiggling fingers, joining fingers and concluding with a fist bump. A ritual indeed.

I have seen sport figures on television spend a good 2 to 3 minutes going through a handshake ritual that certainly must have been choreographed by a master dancer or interpreter for the deaf. In some cases, it was more entertaining than the game.

If you can do one of these “flying fingers” greetings without looking at your hand, you are considered a “shake master,” I guess.

Another form of greeting that is becoming commonplace is the “modified brief bump.” This is when two individuals just grab a hand and do a kind of quick shoulder bump. This is used after a football game where players recognize their opponents whom they obviously know as buddies. At other times the hands are not involved and the two greeters just smash into each other’s chest.

I still use the old-fashioned, traditional handshake because I don’t know how or when to fist bump or wiggle fingers, and I’m sure I would injure myself doing the “modified brief bump.” It could get even worse in the future; we may be bumping legs or heads in greeting.

And, while we’re talking about handshakes, what is with this trend of wearing caps backward?

Hats, and especially caps with the brim in the rear, have sprouted on heads all over for whatever reason. These “reverse chapeaus” are worn everywhere – restaurants, college classrooms, pubs, inside every place and maybe even churches. (I’ll have to attend and check it out.) The days of “please remove your hat” are gone as people wear their caps anywhere they want.

Why buy a cap to wear backward when the whole purpose of the brim is to keep the sun out of your eyes? Maybe some individuals want to cover an ugly neck.

Today, you can buy a brimless hat, vaguely similar to the yarmulke, which comes down to your ears and eliminates the need to wear a reverse brim cap. Who knew?

A hopeful sign I have noticed is the slow return of the dress hat, as worn in the 1930s and ’40s. I see some entertainers with the dress hat, in some cases with a white shirt and tie, performing and bringing back memories of the well-dressed Sinatra. Hope springs eternal.

And what is it with hugs? Women have always hugged, but now men, from jocks to business executives, are hugging one another in greetings. Even bikers and hot-rodders are hugging.

The hugs range from a full hug to the half hug to the “almost hug.’’ There is even some patting on the back while hugging. Where did all this come from? I can understand hugging family members, troops returning from overseas and other special occasions, but hugging one and all is beyond me.

In Europe, hugging and kissing on the cheek is standard operating procedure and expected. I followed this great tradition extensively with the Hungarian ladies while in Budapest.

Apparently hugging by one and all has become commonplace in the United States.

Between the new handshakes, backward caps and hugs all round, I am spinning.