Aggressively sought today by a fellow worshiper two pews ahead of me for what was sure to be an aggressive handclasp, I held back.
It didn’t matter. My fellow worshiper was not to be denied. I knew I had to act and act fast, or all was lost. Come up with something or be crushed by this enthusiast. In a flash it came to me, and I said it, holding up the threatened limb: “Bad hand.”
Without a blink, wink, or nod, like a quarterback deciding to run, he reached across the aisle to make the flesh-pressing contact he desperately needed.
A friend once suggested that a person might claim leprosy and thus fend off such a handshaker. Never tried that, but now I have a better way. Keep it simple. Say “bad hand.”
See also What’s the Deal with the Sign of Peace? for more on same topic.
This ancient tradition dates back to the 2nd century writings of Justin Martyr, which was then symbolized with a kiss. However, it fell into disuse until Vatican II when it was revived as an optional practice.
Key word here: optional. It should not become a free-for-all meet-and-greet, and no one should feel pressured to participate.
Word to the wise . . .