The Terrible Trouble of Executing “The Bro Shake”

emnjayIt’s time to assess what’s really giving young adult men trouble these days: The Bro Shake.

Life used to be simple. You saw a man, you took his hand, and you shook it. One to three strong shakes. Transaction complete. But in this new era, there are a multitude of ways for men to greet each other, and it’s become downright awkward and perplexing, to the detriment of many exchanges.

Now when I go to greet another man, there’s no telling what kind of histrionics we’ll perform to acknowledge one another. If we’re meeting for the first or second time, the handshake is as certain as a hug is for your mother. We’re still kind of strangers so let’s not make this any more awkward than it already is.

The trouble comes when we men actually know and like each other, and care to welcome the other in a warm, personable way. A cold, unpassionate handshake there simply won’t do. So we resort to the option that seems best to us at the time.

One such popular option is the thumbs-clasp-then-fingers-slide-into-a-snap shake. Like diving at the Olympics, the increased degree of difficulty here yields happy rewards when properly executed, yet looks like a painful belly flop when it fails.  Some cultures and social groups pull this one off seamlessly. I on the other hand often fail to connect the thumb clasp and completely lose the chance to perform the slide and snap. Sorry about that, are you content that our hands did stuff so we can move past this butchered ritual and remain friends?

obama-fist-bump-with-child_168045951Sometimes though we just don’t care to be so warm and fuzzy. In that case we may extend the fist for a bump. A bump kinda says, “It’s good to see you but there’s no need to snuggle.” The problem with inviting a bump is that you may be inviting a world of confusion. Bumps are not highly common in most circles. If you have a room of shakers, claspers, and snappers, your fist will look like a cold, fleshy rock. Are you going to extend that and punch me in my eyebrow or is this a gesture of endearment? Then we remember you like us and aren’t belligerent toward your friends, so we adjust accordingly. The problem with that fist is you may want to go patty cake style, one bump on top, then bottom, then together. If we’re not on the same page, we will be waving fists at each other, simulating baboon interaction. If you’re willing to take that risk, let’s go for it and see what happens.

TigerHighFiveLet’s not forget alternative handshake option #3. Guys my age are still fairly active, competitive, playful, and prone to high-fiving. If we’re shooting hoops or celebrating kickball homers, then of course we’ll five away without problems. But when you bring those fives to the bar after work, you are inviting disorientation. When the high five is presented here, the handshake extender is rendered perplexed. And there’s no saving face. He will also look like a fuddy-duddy. The guy who came to the party a little too serious. The high fivers were primed for a round of Jagerbombs and you just went Mich Ultra.

Just like any communication, the employed greeting of young men is determined by the occasion, mood, and setting. With so many variations of welcome at our disposal, we are bound to look foolish from time to time in attempts to read one another’s minds and execute an impeccable embrace. But it’s no reason not to try, and a clumsy encounter is far better than one of apathy.

Couponing Is Robbing the World of You

couponsSeveral years ago, I remember watching an intriguing TV segment revealing the secrets of a couponing queen. This lady had mastered the couponing system and was essentially getting free groceries. I watched in amazement as she strolled through the grocery store, picked out her items, and revealed how each one either cost her nothing, or the store was paying her to take it. One couldn’t help but marvel when at least $100 worth of groceries was through the checkout line and the total amounted to about the cost of a Kleenex box.

My wonder was heightened by the fact that, at the time, I was on a crusade of frugality, determined to be so thrifty I could squeeze cents out of a piece of trash. I learned some crazy cost-saving techniques- everything from the ultimate guide of gaming a yard sale to how to make my own soap. I was addicted to saving money, with the fix often coming in the form of saving 37 cents on Speed Stick.

So when I saw extreme couponing in action, I was hooked. I printed and cut out e-coupons. saved junk mail and cut out those coupons, and even got my in-law’s Sunday paper so I could cut out those coupons. My life was consumed by paper clips and bar codes.

And then I enlisted my wife, our resident grocery shopper, to pioneer our clipping craze. What a delightful task to throw upon someone.

If only couponing was as simple as getting super-cheap food. What I learned early on was to be a true coupon ninja, you had to collect super cheap crappy food, and lots of it. The way to “hit it big” is getting BOGO deals with coupons on top of double coupons day on top of super sweeps on top of scheduling life around trips to the damn grocery store. And then, when it’s all said and done, you have scored seven tubes of toothpaste and a third-world-country supply of Kraft Mac-n-cheese.

Sure, the surplus is kind of nice, but where do you put it all? Your home isn’t a food bank, and unless you’ve knocked out a wall to extend your pantry, all that extra crap is going into the garage. Forever. You might go grab a tube of paste in like four months, but chances are you’ll have obtained 17 more by then from another insane coupon expedition.

Yet, the most important aspect to couponing is not the effect it has on your wallet or your garage, but your time. Great couponing requires great effort. If you are willing to watch TV every night with a pair of scissors or keep a grocery price log with you at all times, then you are fully committed to the cause.

But at what cost? The problem with couponing is that it produces nothing. And if there is something you like to do more than couponing (dear goodness let’s hope so) or something you do that you’re particularly good at, have you wondered why you’re forsaking that for $2.35 off a can of baked beans?

It’s not that couponing in itself is bad. Thriftiness is an admirable trait and is a good way to be a worthy steward of resources. But when we are hyper-focused on being consumers and taking what we can get, we rob the world of what it really needs from us; something only we can give.

Maybe it’s the piano. Or blogging. Or embroidery. It doesn’t matter. It’s whatever you can create and give to someone that they would’ve never received otherwise.

That’s worth much more than whatever you can save at the grocery store. In fact, it’s priceless.