Prince William showed up at a recent gathering of international celebrities in London and the big question of the evening was how other attendees should greet him. Should they bow? Curtsy? Shake his hand?
When the second in line to the British throne was introduced to a rapper by the name of Tinie Tempah, the question was answered in a surprising manner.
The prince and the rapper exchanged a high five.
While the gesture might be regarded as a welcome unstiffening of his family’s image, it dealt a royal blow to my campaign to have high fives retired to the museum of outdated fads, alongside the Macarena and pet rocks.
Because as far as I’m concerned, high fives are out.
I could be wrong, I suppose. Perhaps some things get so old they become cool again. Like Betty White or Tony Bennett.
All I know is that I stopped high-fiving at approximately the same time I quit saying “groovy.” I’ll shake your hand, knock your knuckles or even, if you’re a female, give you a genuinely insincere air kiss. But please don’t ask me to give you five.
No one is quite sure how high fives originated. Theories cite everyone from Abbott and Costello in the ’40s to a Murray State basketball player in the ’60s.
Whoever is to blame, sports stars and young urban men adopted it and made it cool in the ’70s. Every home run, touchdown or slam dunk was a cause for an orgy of high-fiving. Whenever two or more young urban males met on the street there were high fives all around.
Then the gesture caught on with persons like myself, who were neither young, hip, nor sports stars. I don’t remember when I committed my first high five, but I probably was wearing a Nehru jacket at the time.
Eventually, though, high fives lost their cool factor for me. They had spread to suburban bowling leagues, corporate board meetings and PTA bake sales. Little old ladies were high-fiving at Mahjong. My wife even taught our dog to “gimme five,” which was technically impossible, because he only had four to give.
But when I went to a wedding and the minister told the groom, “You may now high five the bride,” I’d had enough.
How other persons choose to interact with each other is none of my business, of course. But the next time I meet Prince William, I definitely will not high-five him. I’ll either shake his hand or knock his knuckles. And then maybe he and I can go off to a disco together.
That would be far out, man.
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