The Hawke’s Bay handshake.
I know I’m a fag an’ all but really, the bone-crushing male handshake lives on in Hawke’s Bay in all its macho desperation. I held my hand out to an ordinary seeming bloke and was met by a nerve-pinching clutch which snavelled my knuckles together and ground them back and forth remorcelessly. And this is meant to be a sign of friendship.... (Traditionally a sign you weren’t carrying a hidden sword...)
You can tell a lot about a man from his handshake...
Of course I’m a writer so my hands, my fingers are kind of like ballet dancer’s toes. They’re precious to me. They’re what I work with. I’d thought this horrible male competitiveness had died away.
It was alive in my youth.
I was tutored from early on you can tell a lot about a man from his handshake.
What, I used to ask myself? What? As an apprentice pouf, I knew exactly what the code was. Someone could diagnose your terrible secret from the fact you weren’t locked into an internecine arm wrestle from the word go.
Now bromance has shamelessly announced itself to the world.
These days, of course there’s the male hug. Bromance has shamelessly announced itself to the world. But if you watch two straight men hugging, watch for the hand on the back which is like a hugometer. Only too soon the hugometer hand will start pounding up and down on the ‘mate’s’ back. It’s as automatic as an old fashioned railway signal. This is code for: don’t go in too deep. Don’t have too much body contact. Come awake! Come awake!
Another way of seeing this is the terror of having an erection, in this situation. Or worse still, a kiss.
The only thing different is penetration.
Of course kisses, patting, frottage are allowed in certain areas set aside as sacrosanct male-only domains - like the football field. Here you see as much male-male body contact as you would see in the average gay sex club. The only thing different is penetration. But you could see the physical mauling of male on male contact on the football field as either a substitute or displacement activity. The violence could be seen as pent up frustration. The ball through the goal....
I never for a moment suspected the ordinary seeming bloke of not being macho enough.
But in the provinces this kind of male tic - the crippling handshake - lives on. It strikes me as sadly desperate - and completely unnecessary. I never for a moment suspected the ordinary seeming bloke of not being macho enough. Maybe he suspected me though?
It’s kind of like living under the Iron Curtain down here sometimes, or 1950s America, when everybody suspected everyone else of being not who they’re pretending to be.
Cross dressing is big.
I can tell you this though: there is a raging demand for crossdressers in this town. Cross dressing is big. And I bet when you meet up for a bit of jiggyjiggy, out would come the paw of Queen Elizabeth in a white kid glove but the moment you shook hands - there it would be - that desperate need to persuade you that you had met a real bloke.