Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Decline and Demise of the Greeting

Perhaps I have watched too much “Masterpiece Theater”, but as of late I have been mulling over the demise of the formal greeting.  Today, in our country, one does not expect a bow and curtsy or a kiss on the hand, but even a good, solid handshake seems to have fallen by the wayside, substituted by a half-nod, and a “How ya doin’?”

Are we no longer “Pleased to make your acquaintance,” or do we not care “How do you do?” Usually, it’s an emotional affair, with people asking us how we are, to which we reply back a hasty “Fine,” regardless of our true state of affairs.  No one really wants to know anyway.

It would be easy to blame the internet for this lack of formality.  So many of us take part daily in an anonymous exchange with strangers and think nothing of it.  But is that really all there is to it?

I decided to practice what I preach, and today, upon meeting a nice young woman, I extended my hand and gave her a warm, sincere greeting, and I was shocked my first thought would be that of my inner germaphobe, crying out that this girl came from the University and must be inundated with nothing short of the plague! 

This revelation was unsettling to me.  Have I really become that pathological that I would fear human contact?  (Excuse me.  I’m very busy ignoring what my family has to say about this subject right now.) However, could my very natural human reaction be one source of our reluctance to shake hands?  Millions are spent on commercials showing us the contagious vermin lying in wait for us on every countertop and toilet handle, and Purel stock has most certainly gone through the roof with the upsurge of designer flu-bugs everywhere we turn. While I do not think this knowledge will insight a rebirth of the bow and curtsy of Mr. Daah-cy and Mistress Bennet, it really should, by no means, limit our sincerity and genuine pleasure upon meeting another individual with whom we share this planet. 

I urge you to contemplate your own standard greeting, and gussy it up a bit!  In this season of greeting others, consider spreading goodwill and amity to others, and oh hang it! perhaps a few germs as well.


Monday, November 26, 2012

The season for sneezin'

When one perchanced to sneeze in Elizabethan England, it was widely believed that the devil could enter your body.  Offering God’s blessing to the sneezer was a way to fend off this unfortunate, malevolent event. Indeed, further research finds that in 77 AD Pope Gregory I broadcasted constant prayer to ward off the Bubonic Plague, though to little avail.

I think most people know about the superstitious origins of this custom, yet it persists, even though modern medical evidence clearly shows that germs pay no nevermind to such benedictions.   And some well-wishers are relentless. 

My eleven year old daughter tells me that one child in her science class has taken it upon himself to shout “Bless You” at the top of his lungs from the other side of the room if anyone in class should sneeze.  I too, am often faced with competing blessings whilst out in public, a veritable deluge of consecrations raining down upon me from well-meaning strangers mindful of my safety.  If anything, I think others should bless themselves, to ward off any immune-crippling germs I could be spreading around with my sneeze!

I can’t help but wonder why the lowly sneeze is the only bodily expulsion to garner such attention.  What about belching?  Or better yet, farting?  Surely a public farter is one most in need of a kind blessing.

When I took it upon myself to somewhat grievously air my opinions to my spouse, he found it curious that I should even take exception to it. It was his way of thinking that we should take what we can get as far as felicitous blessings, and for the most part, who wouldn’t want, need and enjoy a little of the divine light sent their way by another member of humankind?

Hmmm.  Perhaps issuing a friendly “Bless you” is just a way for people to engage in a shared moment of being human, however brief it may be. 
And so I say unto you,
Blessings, and thanks for stopping by.