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We concluded our business. He stood. I stood. He extended his hand. I gripped and shook. A simple handshake. No big deal, right?
Except it was my first in over a year.
The simple act of grasping another’s hand dates back thousands of years, at least to the ninth century B.C. when a handshake between Assyrian king Shalmaneser III and Babylonian king Marduk-zakir-shumi I was depicted in a relief. Theories abound to the original purpose, though most settle on some form of proof that no weapons are being concealed and that the physical connection cemented an agreement.
Despite that long history, handshakes only became popularized by the masses in the last couple hundred years as society became more egalitarian. Today, business deals and greetings are routinely sealed with the grip of hands, even in cultures that have historically used other means of greeting.
Of course, as medical science has evolved, we have also learned how easily microbial pathogens spread via physical contact. Various attempts have been made to evolve to something other than a handshake. Suggestions were made during the H1N1 pandemic of 2009. Hospital infection control studies have discouraged handshakes, but even doctors haven’t been able to break the habit.
And then COVID-19 came along. After years of working in the corporate world, the handshake mentality was deeply ingrained in me, but I finally stopped. Many times in the last year, my hand was half-outstretched before I remembered and withdrew.
And, so, this week was momentous. A handshake. Actual contact. We smiled, thanked each other, and parted company.
As soon as I was out of sight, I liberally applied hand sanitizer. That’s one habit that probably won’t end soon.
Books I’m Reading
A high school girl disappears from a tough Boston neighborhood, a sadly too common occurrence with gang violence and drugs in the surrounding blocks. Her family wants answers, but the trail has grown cold over many months despite the efforts of the police department.
Frankie Elkin is a woman with a host of issues, including being a recovering alcoholic whose only skills are bartending and finding missing people. She inserts herself into the investigation and uncovers truths unsettling to both law enforcement and the family. The more she digs, the more mysteries are unearthed.
Frankie has found many people, but never alive. Can this be the first time she brings a missing person home alive?
The cover image for today’s post is part of The Throne Dais of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III which is held at The Iraq Museum. Much of our shared human history traces back to ancient Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates River and this museum holds many of these early artifacts. Much of the museum has been looted, but surviving artifacts are being recovered and returned. Few of us will be able to see the exhibits for ourselves, but the website gives us a glimpse.
Gratuitous Dog Picture
Since we are still without our fence, our yard time is restricted by these leashes which has reduced our hunting opportunities. Imagine our surprise this morning when we flushed a deer from the woods behind the house. That surprise extended to our human holding the leashes who hadn’t had his coffee yet, either. Here we are hours later watching the woods for more surprises.
Background title image courtesy Dr. Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin of The Throne Dais of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III which is held in the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. Image licensed via CC BY-SA 4.0.
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I agree with still using the hand sanitizer. Ruby has one again started visiting dogs and humans when we are out. It has been a rough year for us all. Sorry guys, the fence will arrive real soon, everything is slow right now.
It IS difficult to remember NOT to shake hands or even hug someone over the past year. The hand sanitizer is in the glove compartment of the car among other places in the house and will stay there for the future.
I know the fence will be SO welcome once it’s installed!