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How (Not) to Say Hi

Should I just give him the ol’ man’s hand shake, firm and simple? Should I click my fingers just as we release each other’s grip? But if I do that, I’m just inviting an annoying fist pump straight after and no one wants that. Or does he?.

I’d seen him before. In fact I’d had that same ‘seen him before’ feeling maybe 100 times before this time. I don’t know his name; I don’t know what he does, what his parents do or why he keeps saying hi to me every time I see him at a party but khalas, it’s got to the point where it would be rude to not say hi back. I’ve developed some kind of hand-focused symbiotic relationship with the man. It’s as if we both know very well that we have nothing in common and nor do we have any interest in getting to know each other more, or at some point in the 2 years of running into him one of us would have at least gone further than “HOW'S IT GOING, MAN?” with out waiting for a reply.

Hi?

It’s like our hands have a separate relationship all together. Like lovers having an affair separate from their partners (or bodies, in the case), every single fucking time we meet, without my permission; without my knowledge even, my hand raises itself to touch his hand in some awkward way, as if behind our backs, our hands have been secretly meeting up with each other to talk about their feelings. His hand would talk about how he’s sick of drowning in gel every day (the only personality trait I could muster from this man is that he uses gel) and my hand would rant on and on in some macabre fashion about everything from Pilates to Dolce & Gabbana gloves (I suspect my hand is gay, if you measure homosexuality on how much one likes penis – my hand has only touched my own penis and likes it 100% of the time but has only liked about 80% of the vaginas it’s touched). So when we meet and our respective hands catch view of each other, of course it’s really awkward for them.

Should I just give him the ol’ man’s hand shake, firm and simple? Should I click my fingers just as we release each other’s grip? But if I do that, I’m just inviting an annoying fist pump straight after and no one wants that. Or does he? I don’t know because I don’t know anything about him. Maybe he’s into that whole ni99a hip hop thing and it would be rude of me not to go into the fist pump. I don’t know him at all, but my neurotic side wants me to make sure that he thinks I’m manly and cool, especially to cover up for how gay my hand apparently is. So what I’ll do is I’ll go in for the upwards hand grip and shoulder bump. That is safe and always cool and not gay in any way. I also heard that if you shake someone’s hand from above, it subconsciously dictates your dominance. So I do that, but then he goes in from the other side for the shoulder barge and we’re face to face, eye-to-eye for way to long. We’ve basically kissed by mistake and changed sides multiple times before settling into each other’s shoulders, all within the space of 5 seconds. We both want to make up for the mishap in bodily communication, so we hold that shoulder embrace for a couple of seconds too long and it couldn’t get any gayer if we tried. Then, as we both release from what was basically a hug, we smile to each other as if to make a joke about the awkwardness but then it just becomes two men over-exaggeratedly smiling at one each other from a distance of about one inch and it was so gay that even my gay hand got embarrassed and dipped into my pocket, urging me to walk off immediately.

Now, this is just one little occasion among many occasions with random acquaintances that I meet in the sitcom that we call Cairo nightlife, where everybody knows your name, and for some reason I have no idea fucking why, they are always glad I came. So recently I made a decision, nay, aresolution! If I do not know a person and only recognise them by vague association, I will not – I repeat will NOT – say hi to him just for the sake of it. It is unnecessary and banal and leaves me feeling empty inside; I won’t even acknowledge this man next time we cross paths on a night out.

Illustration by Bouklao Illustrations

I go out for the first time after my proclamation. So far so good, I’ve said hello only to the people who know me as more than crazy CairoZoom man. If there was a medal for ignoring people who you don’t care about, then I was wearing the gold that night. I’m on the dance floor having a blast, trying to stop my gay hands from doing pirouettes and the guy walks in. Ha ha, yes! Little does he know what’s in store for him, the smug little bastard has come in here expecting to say hi to me well, just you wait guy, you have another thing coming, mate.  He comes over to where my friends and I are dancing, he says hi to each one seamlessly, like a ballerina dancing in the snow, effortlessly creating rainbows of coolness and joy with every greeting. He’s doing them all, from the over-excited long time no see hug to the cheeky, fake testicle punch, to the snappiest high-five I’ve ever seen and perfect wooing of a girl, with an effortless double-cheek kiss plus a hair twirl for good measure. And then…then he walks off!

He has the nerve to just walk off! Without saying hi to me! I’ve known the guy for, like, 2 years! I walk right up to him from behind, and raise my hand ready to give him the handshake of a lifetime. I poke him on the back and plant my hand down, as he turns around, ready to intertwine our two hands like ying and motherfucking yang. Ying smacks him on the face by mistake and yang spills his drink. “HOWS IT GOING, MAN?”