Ahhhhh, our Southwest Florida mornings are back. It was 68 degrees with a zephyr rattling through the palm fronds as we made our morning Bokeelia Beach walk. The Geezer waved to a man walking on the other side of the road and we crossed the street to talk. Of course, the first thing they did was shake hands.
What gives with this ritual? Two humans approach, square off in front of each other in a challenge position, then extend their right hands, grasp the invader’s palms, and grind up and down like they’re operating an antique water pump. Are they trying to see if water comes out of their fellow humans’ mouth or ears?
The males seem obligated to perform this action. Many females do engage in this ceremony, but are less obsessed. My guess it’s just another example of the females superior intelligence. That’s a universal trait we gals of all zoological types share. Of course, I don’t discuss this with the Geezer. Naturally, he has a different take.
Curiosity about this fetish had me burning. I wanted to ask the old boy why this slavish devotion to a convention that makes no sense to me. However, I’m too much of a lady to rudely interrupt a conversation. I decided to wait to pose my question. The other gentleman yakked on incessantly. Eventually, I rolled my eyes and paced back and forth trying to get the Geezer moving. He was too busy talking about some stupid political thing. In desperation, I tugged at my leash to break up the gab-fest. The old boy broke off the babbling immediately. Who says you can’t teach old men new tricks!
After we’d gotten out of human hearing range, another deficiency of the species, I asked, “Geezer, why do humans shake hands when they meet each other?”
“It’s a universal greeting. It’s like saying, ‘nice to see you,’ without using the words.” The Geezer dismissed the subject by pointing out what was obvious. “Isn’t it great weather? It sure beats the hot mornings we’ve had the last few days.”
I hate it when the Geezer does that! It pissed me and my sarcastic side popped up. I growled, “Oh, nicer weather? Gee, I’d have never noticed. I guess my paw pads have lost their sensitivity and my skin doesn’t recognize temperature differences.” Before the old boy could retort, I added, “That stuff about shaking hands because you’re glad to see someone is Toro Caca. You shake hands with that Irving guy from down the street and you despise the sniveling little bastard. I know you’re not glad to see him.”
The Geezer’s anger flashed for a split second before he saw the wisdom in my comment. After the time it took to get his ancient brain in operate mode, he said, “Well, Sandy, that wasn’t a complete answer. It’s a custom that’s origin is from long ago. It’s more a “I’ll do you no harm,” than “glad to see you.” If I remember right,” I thought he probably didn’t, “Shaking hands goes back to when men carried weapons and you weren’t sure of a person’s intent when they approached. By showing an empty hand and accepting the other man’s empty palm you mutually agreed not to try cutting off the other fellow’s head.”
“I guess you’re going to tell me that’s why you always shake right hands?” I couldn’t help smirking.
“Very good, Sandy. That’s exactly right!”
The smirk continued. Either Geezer was blowing smoke up my food vent or I had another bit of proof the human race was playing the game short a few cards. “Come on, Geezer. What about lefties?”
“Since most people were trained to do everything with their right hand, I guess it didn’t occur to them.” The Geezer surprises me at times. “Anyway, Sandy, it’s just the best way to get acquainted.” Best way, I thought? I hate to admit MY human can be so simplistic.
I wanted to point out all the obvious superior points that the butt sniff has over the hand shake when greeting, but I’ve learned in my young life that discussing such issues with intellectually inferior species wastes my time. However, let me explain the differences to you.
What do you learn from a handshake? Well, you see the other person has a right hand, he can move it, and not much else. Oh, you find out the person you’re meeting is willing to smear his germs all over you. That way you can’t say he’s never given you anything. Geezer says you can tell how assertive an individual is by his shake. I won’t dispute that, though I have my doubts, and for sure, that’s a one time thing.
Now, let’s consider the butt sniff. To paraphrase old Shakey, “How do I see thee better, let me count the ways.” Right from the first, a butt sniff says, ‘I’m willing to follow behind you,’ not ‘I’m right in your face and space to challenge you.’ What’s the friendlier greeting? Walking around your new acquaintance gives you a better chance to check them out. A 360 degree view so to speak. From a ladies point of view, it lets you size up your competition and, more importantly, the male contingent. If humans adopted butt sniffing, just think how many women wouldn’t waste time on men with, shall we say, deficient virtue! I’m assuming the clothes will go, that’s the natural thing that follows. Mind you, that’s just the visual.
The sniff! Talk about information! Let’s take sexual promiscuity. It jumps out and beats your nose like a baseball bat. Not that that’s my first interest. Lets’ get right to the social aspects. A whiff gives you a great clue to a dog’s socio-economic status. I can tell an Iams, Nutro, or Science Diet canine from a Kennel-ration mutt after sampling two parts per million. Coupled with their grooming, you can see who the social climbers are, the snobs, the down-on-their luck types, etc. I could expound on the superiority of the butt sniff for hours, but I’d sound preachy and I detest that.
I do see hope for the human race. Orientals bow to greet each other. Their’s is a much longer established culture, and I see this as proof of Darwin’s theory. I’m sure the bow is the first vestige of the human species evolution to the butt sniff as a universal greeting. It’s comforting that they’ll soon be thinking like I do, which means they’ll finally be getting it right.
PS – Geezer tells me over 20,000 of you have visited my humble jottings over the last few years. He thinks that’s great. So do I. Thank you for your visits and the hundred plus plus universally kind comments. It sure makes a dog want to do more.