A Ranking of Alternative Handshakes

Maggie Cavanaugh

Amidst growing Coronavirus fears, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has suggested limiting all non-essential physical contact between people. Perhaps to some, this is a dream come true, as one can finally skip the small talk and opening formalities of social interaction under the guise of public health concern. However, at Villanova, where our community is grounded in the norms of holding doors open for each other, hugs and high fives, this news has shaken us akin to the kidnapping of our beloved Oreo. (#FreeMyMan) 

Like all good college students, we turn to Buzzfeed in order to establish new social norms. Buzzfeed has created a list of alternative handshakes we can all use until this virus is defeated. A friend and I took the liberty of trying out these alternative handshakes, and our reflections are recorded for your enjoyment.  

First is the elbow bump. Instead of offering your hand in greeting, merely extend your elbow, and bump elbows with the other party. The pros of the elbow bump are many: it is self-explanatory, simple and easy to execute. But there are cons: primarily, it looks weird. If you happen to be interviewing right now and you opt for an elbow bump, there is a significant chance your interviewer will not know what you are doing, and you will not get the job. 

There is also the foot tap, in which two parties bump the insteps of their shoes together. It’s everything the dab was not – it’s cool, coordinated and suave. Variations of the foot bump can be composed with different friends, and I find that the act of leaping into the air in order to bop someone’s foot sparks a certain joy. On the downside, it does take a round of practice to pull this off seamlessly, but I promise you, the results are worth it. 

Third, and my personal favorite, is the head bow. Multiple parishes have switched out the traditional handshake at the sign of peace for a head bow in order to prevent the virus from spreading. In college life and beyond, we all have rough days. There is no way around that fact but seeing your friend bow to you as you walk to class and returning the bow can only do good things for morale on campus. Truly, the only downside is this has the potential to be taken too far by the student body, as the natural desire for competition creates elaborate bows and curtseys. But is that really a problem?