Don’t Give Me a Hand!

If there any followers of this blog left to get this, HI! How ya doin’?! Life sure has changed, hasn’t it?

For new visitors: this blog became dormant years back for the reasons blogs go quiet. I’m glad WordPress didn’t delete the blog for non-use, because I can think of no better therapy, and I have the time I haven’t had.

Call this… the Coronavirus Awakening.

I want to say a few things about hands.

I was just washing my hands with a much greater thoroughness and sense of purpose than I ever have – ever! – and it occurred to me how much I miss the simplest physical contact of a handshake. I thought back to the routines of my former life to try to assess how often I shook hands and reflect on what the gesture means.

Some people are good at handshakes; they put some effort or meaning into it. To others, it is a perfunctory act. You can tell a lot about someone, right off the bat, with a handshake.

One handshake can ignite an instant affinity or attraction that makes you want to know that person better. If I compare my top 5 friends with the quality of their handshakes, I would say there is a high degree of overlap. I don’t happen to have any friends with bad handshakes.

I shook the hand of a very famous celebrity lawyer, at a professional dinner where he collected another award. His hand was sweaty, warm and limp. His gaze was elsewhere. I have a very low regard for the man.

I don’t trust people who don’t look me in the eye when they shake my hand. How do I make that calculus now?

Notable people whose handshakes were memorable to me for their quality: Tip O’Neil, George H.W. Bush, Howard Baker, Joe Moakley, Dan Quayle, John Boehner, Dapper O’Neill, Chuck Colson, Bill Weld and Willie McGinnest. Bill Weld has large hands, but Willie McGinnest has catcher’s mitts that’re so big, he has to be very careful not to squeeze.

Sometime within the past 10-15 years, the “bro hug” began to take over, and the handshake became “step one” into the bro-hug motion. A lot of my contemporaries haven’t quite picked up the bro-hug thing. A few of them relish in taking it to extremes, with ferocious bear hugs that lift you off your feet. I love that shit.

This summer, I’ll really miss that shit. A lot. I hope I don’t have to miss it forever.

I did not expect to celebrate my 65th birthday with the realization that a handshake could literally be deadly.

Stay healthy everyone! #elbowbump


  1. Jamy Madeja says:

    I agree with the great handshake of Bill Weld, who promoted me to the “both cheeks” kiss last time I saw him and Joe Moakley. That man also had HUGE ears. After his wife died, we had a lovely dinner and a walk-through of his South Boston home which was on a charitable fundraising tour the next day. It was so so so sad to see he hadn’t touched his wife’s vanity with perfume or her clothes, yet he allowed people to see all the decorations even there. He was so sweet to me, especially for a rough guy hurting.

    Jamy Buchanan Madeja, Esq.
    Buchanan & Associates
    100 Cambridge Street, 14th Floor
    Boston, MA. 02114
    617 227 8410 office
    617 256 8491 cell

    [Rated by Super Lawyers]

    Sent from my iPhone. Please excuse typos

    1. Pete says:

      Lovely story.

  2. Tony Barker says:

    Good thoughts, Pete. I deem it a remarkable coincidence that my slightly less profound ruminations on hugging were published exactly one year ago.

    1. Pete says:

      ‘lo Tony! I’ve thought of you more than once since the Seattle mess arose. Glad to know you’re safe.

  3. Cliff Hagberg says:

    Glad you’re back!

  4. Margaret Chase says:

    Glad to see you Pete. Tipper had a GREAT handshake. I remember it well. 🙂

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