I witness handshakes everyday. They have existed since the beginning of human history. From a firm grasp and a simple shake to a multi-step minute long extravaganza, handshakes represent an important part of human life.
Handshakes serve many purposes. A handshake represents the beginning of a new connection. It is the first interaction between two previously unacquainted people. It can tell a lot about someone. Firmness, eye contact, and body language translate to strength, character, and style. Handshakes signify an accomplishment. They are used as a form of congratulations in ceremonies, such as graduation, and to confirm a new job. They represent the completion of a task or goal. A handshake establishes an agreement. Many promises are made solely on the basis of a handshake. For most agreements, a written contract is unneeded. A bet or a pledge formed with a handshake is honored and shouldn’t be broken. At the end of sporting competitions, athletes shake hands to show sportsmanship. Whether a team won or lost, a handshake represents honor and respect for its opponent.
A secret handshake, intricate or simple, represents a strong bond between two or more people. Political and social groups, such as the free masons and fraternities, even close friends, develop handshakes with different grips, motions, snaps, and claps. It may be a form of identification between members or simply a recognition of friendship.
My favorite handshake is the one I share with my football, basketball, and lacrosse team member, Marcus. During the winter of my freshman year we created a handshake called “The Scrabble-Dabble”. It was a simple handshake lasting no more than a few seconds. As Marcus and I became better friends through the seasons, we added more and more steps to the handshake. The handshake is in its fifth version and incorporates different grips, slaps, snaps, and motions. It turns heads and stops traffic in the hallways.
I believe in handshakes because they mark important events in my life. They signify accomplishments, agreements, and growing bonds. Novelist John Barth once said “More history is made by secret handshakes than by battles, bills, and proclamations.” So go out and make history each day-a-lay.
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