IS A FIST BUMP OR ELBOW BUMP GOOD ETIQUETTE?
My question is about whether or not a fist bump or elbow bump is good etiquette?
I always wonder how to react after you’ve said, “Hi,” because I must confess that I’m becoming slightly germaphobic. The holiday germ spreading season is upon us, and I’m not what you call an air kisser. I’m going to either kiss you or not, but what I don’t want to do is shake hands. No matter how much I like you.
Fisting doesn’t make sense because germs are still on the hands.
After a recent tennis game, where it is customary to shake hands after you’re through playing, I begged off shaking hands with the excuse that I had a scratchy sore throat. Without having thought it through, I said I probably caught the bug from one of my small children, and that I didn’t want to spread germs. But wouldn’t my germs be on any tennis balls I’ve touched? Probably.
My opponent quickly suggested an elbow bump and we touched elbows. We lifted our right arms and bumped elbows. Fine with me. But at a holiday gathering with a wine glass in one hand, fisting or elbowing doesn’t feel like proper manners. What’s the good etiquette alternative?
–Elizabeth, Charleston, SC
Elizabeth, a fist bump or elbow bump is good etiquette when two people agree to the bumping of those body parts. When socializing we usually don't have the option of discussion when a pair of heavily liquored lips smack you in the face at a holiday gathering. You initiate politeness by trying to dodge having that kiss land target on your lips by hoping the offering of a cheek will do. But perhaps we should be questioning: why does the other person feel they have a right to initiate that kiss in the first place? It is so controlling. Especially when they raise their eyes to see who is watching you being kissed -- an all too familiar act between near strangers -- by a friend, but not a bedfellow.
- You asked about the good etiquette, which has always been that the woman extends her hand first for a handshake, or offers a kiss on the cheek by cocking her head, initiating the physical contact. Perhaps she'll be rebuffed, but it is her purgative. Unlike the elbow or fist bump, which more than likely has been agreed upon.
- The person going in for the greeting hug picks up on the body language, captures the nuance ritual as his own, and bumps elbows.
- Elbow bump and fist bump where two people touch elbows or fists are both informal ways of greeting someone you already know or whom you know of through a mutual friend..
- By 2009 'elbow bump' was considered for word of 'the year' by the NEW OXFORD AMERICAN DICTIONARY.
- Interest in the elbow bump as an informal greeting took hold during the 2006 avian flu scare, the 2009 swine flu outbreak, and by the time of the 2014 Ebola threat, USA health officials were supporting the use to prevent the spread of germs.
- By 2011, The World Health Organization and The Association for the Advancement of Science -- as well as many colleges -- had already endorsed and encouraged the elbow bump as the polite customary greeting.
- Then. if you must, in the moment say, "You wouldn't want to catch my scratchy throat." Or, "You wouldn't want what I'm just getting over." And they won't.
- Personally, as a greeting, I'm a big fan of the queen's wave. A slight wave of the right hand mimicking the blade on your windshield during a drizzle. It helps to keep that modicum of distance in a busy gathering, or when bumping into someone in the neighborhood.