This country was built – and made great – by a number of things, one of which was a handshake.
It was a way to greet someone fully, completely and eagerly. And the firmer the handshake, the firmer the greeting.
Along with that, and perhaps even more than that, a handshake was a man’s – and later in history, also a woman’s – word on a deal. It was their assurance, their pledge, their honesty, their heart and soul. It was even better than a signed contract in some ways because their legacy was at stake.
The deal between a far-seeing developer and the farmer/owner to buy the land for Belden Village Mall in Jackson Township way back in 1963, was consummated by a handshake. A simple and well-intentioned handshake, for goodness sake, got it all started for the huge, thriving shopping mecca that was created.
Now, though, a deal like that would never, ever be finalized by a handshake. Hardly. With this coronavirus spreading like wildflower, a handshake has been, for about two weeks now, the equivalent of spitting onto someone. It is a sloppy, irresponsible, selfish – even in some ways, hateful – way to say hello to your fellow man, woman or undecided person, let alone conduct major business.
If that deal were to be made today without first signing a contract, then the developer and farmer, making sure to get no closer than six feet to one another and to not be in a room with more than eight other people, would do an air fist-bump, an air bro shoulder-bump, an air bro high-five, low-five or on-the-side palm-slapping, an air celebratory chest-bump, a smile and a wave, a shout-out, a salute, a text, an email, a cell phone call or a Skype exchange. The contract would be signed in six or eight months, or longer, when it’s finally safe to come out and be neighborly with each other again.
Seemingly forever, a handshake was known as “your John Hancock,” named for one of our founding fathers. Now Mr. Hancock must be turning over in his grave. His legacy has been lowered to that of Benedict Arnold, Art Modell, even Jim Harbaugh.
“Gentlemen, the line to be tarred and feathered forms here. No pushing in line. Please be patient. Refreshments and light snacks will be served to make your wait more enjoyable.”
Indeed, if you think the world has been turned upside down, you’re absolutely right. What was good for so long is now bad for the foreseeable future. What was right is now wrong. What was black is now white. What was yes is now no. What was welcomed is now unacceptable. What was pure is now filthy. What was lawful is now law-breaking. What was humorous is now hate-mongering. What was healthy is now hideous. What was great is now grating.
The list goes on and on.
And it’s all that anybody is thinking about these days as we all sit in our locked-up, buttoned-down and fumigated homes, afraid to even look at each other for fear that something terrible will happen, or even worse yet, a meaningful conversation.
Can the coronavirus get into our eyeballs? Talk about a cold stare.
It’s certainly nothing to sneeze at, which now might get you thrown into prison for life.
A handshake, like the one on the Belden Village property 57 years ago? You might get off with only five to 10 years.