Commentary

Celia Rivenbark: The bow, the bump, Namaste and the nod

February 9, 2013 

If you want proof that everybody has gone a little overboard when it comes to fretting about this year’s flu epidemic, look no further than advice given, seriously, by a doctor interviewed in the newspaper about how to avoid getting sick.

The doctor’s No. 1 recommendation? Do not shake hands. That makes sense, I suppose, but I had to laugh at his suggested “alternatives,” which included “a deep bow, a fist bump, the peace sign nod or saying Namaste.”

OK, first off, if you meet someone in a professional setting and he extends his hand and you respond with a deep bow, he’s going to think you’ve got a screw loose or you are having a flu-induced hallucination that you’re actually a contestant on “Iron Chef.”

Ditto responding with “Namaste,” which is accomplished by pressing your palms together in front of your chest and bowing slightly. This is fine at the end of a yoga class but it’s going to come off as super weird if you’re just ending a meeting with your accountant or your kid’s teacher. Besides, people who don’t routinely “Namaste” are very uncomfortable about saying it back because we have no idea what it means. I’ll admit that the first time somebody said that to me, I was so confused that the only response I could come up with was, “Right back atcha.” Which was only slightly better than my first thought: “Oh, no, that’s OK, I’m Christian.”

As to a “peace sign nod,” this puts you at risk of looking like a pathetic patchouli-wearing old hippie. I’m not sure exactly what the “nod” part is but I guess it follows the traditional peace sign with two fingers held aloft and is accompanied by a heartfelt vintage ‘70s exclamation of “Solid!“

As for a fist bump? Face it; the only people that don’t look stupid doing fist bumps are under age 13 and then only when greeting their church league basketball coaches. OK, that’s not right. Even then it looks stupid.

The expert said that if a handshake simply can’t be avoided, it’s important to wash your contaminated hand immediately with soap and hot water or start spritzing it with hand sanitizer.

This will make a great impression when you meet your prospective father-in-law for the first time, gents.

“So wonderful to meet you, sir! Your daughter has told me so much about you! Now, if you’ll excuse me, since you have shaken my hand, I really must take a full-on Silkwood shower. I’m sure you understand. Fix yourself a drink. This shouldn’t take more than an hour … 90 minutes tops.”

I get that we should all take normal precautions and use common sense, like staying home when sick if it’s at all possible. At lunch last week, the waitress slammed down my food and coughed noisily.

“Are you OK?” I asked.

“I’d have to feel better to die,” she said somberly. “Who wants dessert?”

Un-Namaste.

celiarivenbark.com

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service