Handshaker [Hey, You!]

Illustration by Bob Aul

Handshakes mean established trust, from longstanding relationships or following even a few words of introduction. Which is why I just kind of stared when you walked up out of the blue and wordlessly put your hand out, interrupting a conversation I was having with my fellow musician while on break from a gig we were playing. What went through my mind as I stared: Do I know you? What do you want? Are you about to hit me up for money? What if you’re a maniac with a handful of bio-terror, spreading death along Fullerton’s sidewalks handshake by handshake? Bud, I was staring because, in 55 years, nobody has ever done what you did, and I was just plain puzzled. When you finally spoke, you asked me to shake your hand, and after a moment of hesitation, I finally did in a bewildered sort of way. This all seemed to hurt your feelings, that you had to ask for a handshake, and you went off into the darkness half-moaning, “I just . . . wanted . . . to shake . . . somebody’s . . . hand.” When I turned back to my friend, he had the same baffled grin on his face that I did.

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