We read somewhere that the comedian Eddie Murphy doesn't like shaking hands. We don't know if this is a fact but we don't blame him. Yvette said the other day she was on a train and engaged in some people watching. She noticed a young man reading a book, nothing special there but what he was doing with his right hand was kind of special. He was caressing the heal of his foot (he was wearing flip flops). He seemed fascinated with roughness of its skin that was very evident. Not only was it rough but it was dirty, too. She wondered if he extended that hand in a warm hand shake at one point during the remainder of his day. Probably.
Do you extend your hand when you know that you've coughed or sneezed into it? What do you do if someone extends their hand to you and you know that your handshake is going to be less than pristine?
We don't suggest that you say, "I can't shake your hand, I just sneezed into it and it's gross." We don't think the guy on the train with the crusty feet should say anything at all either. All you can do is shake the other person's hand and convince yourself that they like you wash their hands every chance they get. Think of the presidential candidates - imagine the business Purell is doing with them alone!
"You Americans think about things like that," a French friend said when we told her about the footman. "Don't worry he's not going to shake your hand, what do you care?"
Maybe she's right. Maybe we are getting crazy about germs. But when you think about people going into hospitals and getting sicker than they were when they came in because of germs, let's get crazy. Let's do something nice for ourselves and others. Let's wash our hands and shake in good faith.