Ever since Howie Mandel shone the light from his shorn head into the eyes and hearts of America and popularized this hand movement (if not his facial hair stylings) on Deal or No Deal in the mid-aughts, I've found the fist bump unsettling. Primarily, it comes down to the cold unfeeling nature of the thing. I find it a sterile recognition procedure. At its worst, it feels like a lame representation of masculinity, like two fists chest-bumping each other. Wikipedia slightly backs this up by tracing the origins to a boxing greeting before a fight.
While I more than likely suffer from some angsty phobia against this type of expression, it still makes me very uncomfortable when a stranger presents a fist in need of a good bumping.
I also have to point out the bacterial double standard that exists from many of these same outlets who champion the clean fist pounding while at the same time running stories about how double dipping isn't all that bad and the gourmet properties of sausage made from baby feces.
That's not even mentioning the blowback of an overly clean culture, reviving an age-old theory that I embrace: "a little dirt is good for you."
I like handshakes. They have an intimacy about them that can share a lot about the shakee and the shaker. Not just the old expectation of 'hard squeezin' is most pleasin'', but the style of a shake, the skin of the person and the warmth contained in the contact.
Oh, and high fives. Beautiful high fives.
High fives allow two people to clap as one.
High fives share celebration with a bang.
High fives are the sound of friendship.
Maybe I have a bit too brash of a personality and a difficulty keeping quiet at times, but I will not apologize for my rowdy appreciation of a lovely high five.
A deeper philosophical question exists about where humanity goes if it replaces casual close contact for medical sterility. Where does that train of thought lead, both culturally and emotionally? It has been well documented and explored that humans need physical contact to deal with stress and to mature emotionally. What happens if we expand our already spacious social bubbles?
The fist bump resembles a broad sitcom catch phrase. It's easy, safe, sterile (medically as well as socially) and impedes genuine communion.
In the event that I meet a person and go for the handshake, I will trust that if they fear their hands are dirty they would simply alert me, as I would them. In the event that I am offered a high five — I'll take my chances.
I turned 32 yesterday and, as always, the weather was perfect. Listen: you may be a wonderful person, but you most likely do not have the joy of experiencing a birthday on May 20, when the world opens up and blooms. Even Seattle yawns and stretches, shaking out its long hair, smiling big and bright. It's not your fault, some of us are just born lucky.
I take birthdays very seriously and definitely do them right. This mostly involves enjoying the predictably incredible weather with drinks, books and company. I have sought out the best patios this town has to offer and made the most of the nonsense fantasy book I am currently reading.
Here is one of the only pictures I have ever taken of food:
I have lived in Seattle a little over a year and so much has changed since I turned 31. Like last year, I spent the evening with a lovely date. However this year, I had two or three people to invite along. Everyone canceled except my date, but I DID have people to invite. The victory stands.
Without living near so many people I dearly love, Facebook has offered an unlikely source of actual sentimentality. Sure, it makes it easy for people, poking them in the ribs and saying, "Hey, remember that jerk who split the midwest, taking his handsome face and creative genius along for the ride? Well, it's his dumb birthday!" Still, the few seconds people take to write a few words strike a chord with this out of tune contraption. And then some beautiful people surprise you with old photographs you never knew existed, pointing out all the ways you formerly experimented with facial hair.
Karaoke exists for birthdays. Nothing is more selfish and isolating than karaoke. The best you can do is at least find a place that offers rooms to rent so you can exhibit your shameless whines and howls away from the sensitive eyes of others. After an incredible meal at Seattle's best Indian restaurant, I dragged my date to such a room. Everything was covered in plastic, the lighting resembled a failing brothel and the song list was extensive.
31 was kind of a low key year as I filled up the mold I had cast at age 30. I have since found cracks and imperfections in that figure, some larger than others. I was often uncomfortable in my 31-year-old skin as I shrugged around and tried to force pieces into place. In this terribly large-numbered 32nd year, I'd like to fiddle around with that bent casting and see how much I can easily mend and where I need to take more drastic risks.
I needed last year's calm and I just may also need the excitement of a new age.
If none of this interested you, I'd still like to give you this picture of my dumb cat.
Have a lovely night.
I spent $14 on a single pair of socks yesterday.
While I do not skimp on dates with pretty girls and the like, I resist spending unnecessary money on myself. I taught myself to cook to save on meals, I only buy generic brands and you better believe I put water in an empty shampoo bottle to get a little more life out of it. So, what would justify such expensive socks?
Shamefully, I am slowly becoming a runner.
You know what I mean, one of THOSE runners. I’m becoming one of those runners who wear nothing but reflective gear, weird fabric sleeves on their arms and legs, obnoxious sunglasses and ostentatious shoes.
I have long loved running and have regularly engaged in it for the past decade. As my metabolism begins to wage war against my waistline, I have used running as a primary defense. Like a calorie cavalry…
However, I still would never have spent $14 on two thin slabs of fabric attached to my feet.
Last year, on the whim of a particularly strong run and a whispered New Year’s resolution, I ran my first marathon. Like an idiot, a crazy idiot, I ran 26 miles without stopping. Training for only eight weeks, I finished the sucker and haven’t shut up about it since.
As time passed and my running schedule grew ever sporadic, I felt an urge to do an insane thing and I decided to try my hand at another foolish feat of fleet-footedness. So, I’m currently in week five of training for the May 4 Vancouver Marathon.
It turned out that I didn’t hunger for another free T-shirt and more professional pictures of my accomplishment that I can’t afford. Rather, I grew nostalgic about how I physically felt during the training. With a set schedule for when I would run and how far, it ensured that I would get more than enough exercise and feel way less guilt about eating pizza.
More than anything, everything feels great. From my mind to my body, getting so exhausted can only mean good things to relax my busy self. It helps everything make more sense and will hopefully aid me in aging gracefully.
However, as I feel more compelled to do this, I want to train more responsibly and optimize each run. I was extremely proud of finishing the first marathon. Unfortunately, I am nothing without challenges. I finished one, but how can I do better? This is my personality and most of what makes me insufferable for long periods of time.
I’ve begun worrying about pace speed, shoe-life and how many calories to eat while I venture out on anything over 12 miles. Instead of just doing the thing, which I focused on last year, I want to do the dumb thing well.
And with that decision to optimize this increasingly important exercise comes very stupid corollaries. Like spending $14 on socks.
Of course, you should assume I can only do this through the gift of bachelorhood and the curse of being without a family. After you turn 30, it seems your Facebook page becomes full of either baby pictures or bragging about running marathons. At least I picked the least expensive choice.
Originally published in The Issaquah Press