He, a very nice guy, courteously introduces us. And she smiles at me. It’s the kind of smile where her cheek muscles flex upwards but the corners of her mouthline move only a little. It makes her eyes look smaller, as smiles do. I can’t usually tell if it is difficult for her to smile or if she wants me to think she is, quite frankly, not going to try very hard at smiling.
I reach out my right hand. When I do that, my elbow is straight and my arm is almost ninety degrees from my body. My palm is flat, my fingers are together and my thumb is at a forty-five degree angle to them. This means I want to shake her hand. A lot. And I always want to shake it,
even especially if she doesn’t want to shake mine. I am grinning at this point, with teeth showing (and I could use a teeth whitening). The colder she is, the wider my grin and the more teeth I show.
I try not to laugh.
She looks at it. And then she looks at it a half-second longer. The colder she is, the more earnestly I extend my hand, just waiting … waiting for the hand shake exchange.
She chooses her own adventure.
Of course, I know what kind of handshake I’ll get by this point. It is usually a variation of the tips of her fingers and thumb just grazing mine. At most, she clasps the center and back of my palm with the insides of her digit joints. But always, always, she shakes my hand with as little contact between her thumb-finger-webbing and my thumb-finger-webbing as possible. The up-and-down motion of a normal handshake conveniently throws her off her weak grasp.
The boyfriend, the really nice guy who introduced us, probably has a free subscription to Maxim. “Hey, it’s free,” he tells her. And what she doesn’t sarcastically respond with is, “Of course it’s free, Dickhead. See all the ads all over the place? That’s how the magazine is funded, by all those ads of products you actually need with enlightening ‘articles’ on how to figure out women–because that’s how we really work.” Instead, she protests, “Dude. The girls aren’t even that skinny. They’re all airbrushed.” He reaffirms, “It’s just entertainment, honey.”
We all have little (and big) quirks and hangups to us that’ve resulted from our respective pasts. But after awhile, we stop pulling the pity card and realize that someday, we just gotta enter the real world. Anyway, everyone has their own own issues to work on. Hopefully-eventually, we learn to adapt.
The Midwest Native learns to adapt to “big city cut-throat culture.” Or so they call it, anyway. In reality, if you look at it clearly in the Capitol of Entertainment, you see a city that feeds upon its own superficiality. People have their defense mechanisms up in some areas (disguised as the one-up on you) while cannibalizing on others…as long as they are queen in their own little world.
The people who are here to make it count? They have too much going on to play silly games. But if you insist, let’s play, baby. Here are my dues.
Some genuinely kind women learn to dodge a girl who throws the bitch hat at them. They learn to feed a girl’s bitchiness back to her. Even though she threw the bitch hat first, eventually you learn in your mid-twenties (one would hope) that the “she was bitchy first” excuse doesn’t work and your reactively turning into a bitch yourself makes you no better–the hat-thrower was just successful in dragging you down with her. Your behavior and mood have been successfully altered by her.
What quarter-life crisis? What ticking clock? I feel blessed to be out of that ignorant hole. Instead, it’s so much more fun to just … pour it on. More niceties, more smiles and more positive vibes–more, more, more!! And sometimes, just sometimes, she senses that I’m not a threat and I love being pleasantly surprised by that webbing-to-webbing (firm, even) handshake after she warms up ever so quickly. The defenses go down and no hard feelings.
And in the whole grand scheme of things, Who does she think she is? She doesn’t even know me.
When it’s time to part ways, the higher her threat-o-meter, the bigger the bear hug I give. That old game? She might as well eat it. At least the menacing ones are conniving enough to hide it. Might as well spread the love to everyone…