For years, I have been worrying about the appropriate greeting when meeting a female for the first time. Do I hug her? Kiss her? Fake kiss her? Shake her hand? Just when I was getting secure in my social etiquette with women, a new problem has arisen — how to greet MEN. It used to be simple. You would meet a guy and you would shake his hand. This technique was passed down from generation to generation, father to son.
Last week, I went to a Hollywood party. There was one film producer that I was hoping to talk with, despite the event being held in the noisiest, most crowded bar imaginable. Why do people meet in loud bars where you can’t hear anyone talking? After finishing my twelve dollar mojito, I saw Mr. Big.
“Hello,” I said.
“Hey, Neil!” the producer replied, and stretched out his hand for what I thought was going to be a traditional handshake.
But rather than his arm facing towards me, it shot up at 45% angle. I was confused at the gesture, and what was expected from me in return. Sweat formed on my forehead. I didn’t want to blow this opportunity for male bonding. Was I supposed to give this important man a “high five?” It seemed too informal, as if we were playing on the basketball court. I rose up my hand, hoping to improv the whole handshake, and he gripped it in an unusual manner. Our thumbs intertwined, but the hold was less “a soul shake” from a blaxploitation film of the 1970’s, but a “pinkie squared” with the thumbs. The producer moved his other hand around my body and onto the small of my back, and gently pushing me forward until our right shoulders bumped. This move was reminiscent of the hug that President-Elect Obama gave President Bush on Obama’s first visit to the White House. News commentators made note that it was Obama who gave the gentle push forward to Bush, telling the world that the power structure had changed, and Obama was now the alpha male.
Clearly the producer was being friendly, even more intimate than I expected, but at the same time showing me who was boss. I dare not put my hand on HIS BACK and push him into the shoulder bump, or attempt to change things up and bump him on the left side. No, it was I who was being bumped, like the weak, submissive one. And that is the Hollywood game.
I expect BlogHer to be very stressful. I will have to hug many women. During those brief moments of introduction, I will need to walk the fine line between “I am a fellow blogger” and “my room number is #2103.”
Meeting the men will even be more stressful, now that male dominance has taken over the friendly handshake. Who is going to be the guy that initiates the shoulder bump — the one with the more comments on their blog posts?