Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Lend Me a Hand!

Posted November 1, 2007

Only twice in my life have I feared for the structural integrity of my right hand when engaging in North Carolina's favorite gesture of accomodation.

When I first shook the hand of Wake County Sheriff John Baker more than 20 years ago I thought I would require immediate surgery. Fortunately, Baker eased off just in time to spare me a trip to the hospital. WRAL's Amanda Lamb says she had a similar experience when she first shook Baker's hand more than a dozen years ago. His huge hands had wrestled burly runningbacks to the turf in the NFL. And for nearly a quarter of a century, the big and long arm of John Baker pulled criminals off the streets. I will miss this gentle giant who died at the age of 72 this week. He was a good friend, excellent law officer and tremendous role model.

The other person who almost crushed my hand was also a legendary athlete. But instead of throwing people to the ground this man allegedly threw some mean spitballs in the major leagues. Several years ago, Gaylord Perry stopped by our studios to help promote a charity to help victims of ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. What a character! The big Williamston native was wearing one of those Davey Crockett frontier jackets and when he pumped my paw I thought my bones would be reduced to dust. But he, too, had the compassion to ease off just in time. Gaylord’s hands are huge!

Today's questions: what are your rules for shaking hands? How long do you hold on? Who has the best and worst hand shake? When is a hug more appropriate? Should you cut back on hand shaking during the cold and flu season? What do you think of the knuckle or pound shake? When was the last time you gave someone the High Five?

Come on, folks! Lend me a hand! Lets generate 100 comments today!  Have fun!


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  • Acanthus Nov 2, 2007

    Believe it or not, there is actually a protocol for hand shaking! I'm an etiquette consultant, and you'd be surprised how often people ask about this issue and as many posters have mentioned, what a bad impression a poor hand shake can make. So, here are the 'official rules' of shaking: hands should be web-to-web (the 'web' between your thumb and index finger); use a firm grip, but not a crusher; pump or shake 2-3 times - no more; do NOT use your other hand to sandwich the person's hand or grab their elbow, look the person in the eye and smile as you shake; finally, the old gender rules about shaking no longer apply - men can offer their hand first.

  • Squirreling Dervish Nov 2, 2007

    Personally, I like a good, firm handshake, and I am a woman!! Limp, wristy, weak, clammy handshakes are the WORST! It's like someone just slipped a flounder in your hand. Ugh. Having volunteered with teh Jimmy V golf tourney I can't even BEGIN to relate the "famous" I have met. They were all nice. Good handshakes :-)

  • GroupOfPricklyPears Nov 2, 2007

    Poster Vickies22 - you win, girl! :)

    Men who give ladies a limp-damp-halfa-handshake need some lessons. Makes a terrible impression - ugh.

    Sheriff Baker was indeed one of the masterful handshakers like Mario Cuomo, Bill Clinton, both Bushes and their wives, Betty McCain, Jim Hunt, Dan Moore, Yatzac Rabin to mention a few. They have it - that "it" that makes you feel as if you are the most important person in their world for just a few seconds and they are truly glad to see/meet you.

    Hey..wouldn't it be great if everyone greeted us like our dogs do? ;)

    Fun topic, Bill, thanks.

  • tennispro Nov 1, 2007

    Richard Moore that is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • tennispro Nov 1, 2007

    I got to shake President Carter's hand and hug him when He was President. My roommate married his nephew and I was in the wedding. yes, Uncle Billy was there too. Tight security all weekend!!Charles Rose and Richard give powerful handshakes too!!

  • jakiret99 Nov 1, 2007

    While sitting in a doctor's office and reading about MRCA, I decided to stop shaking hands with anyone. The doctor walked in,
    stuck out his hand and I shook it!!!

  • ajstarrrn Nov 1, 2007

    No famous handshakes for me. I think (generally), that men give better handshakes than women. I think women are sometimes unsure whether they should hug or shake hands (I may be mostly speaking for myself here). The last time I gave a high five was today to my son's class mate (1st grade) for winning a game of word bingo!!

  • thefensk Nov 1, 2007

    Oh, famous ones. Jimmie Carter, Jose Feliciano, Timothy Leary, Arlo Guthrie and here's a real off-beat one: former senator Ralph Yarborough of Texas, not of much interest here, but I thought Bill might get a kick out of that one. Oh, can't forget The Famous Chicken!
    Close calls: "Country Joe" McDonald, Jane Fonda, Truman Capote, Dennis Franz -- the latter must have been on my flight, as we were at the same luggage claim turnstile at Newark airport. It seemed to me that people were really bothering him so I just nodded to him as we both picked up our bags which happened to come out right next to one another. I knew he had just won an Emmy for NYPD Blue, but figured, hey, he's just here to get his luggage, not be bothered.

  • packandcanesfan Nov 1, 2007

    I hate a "cold fish" handshake. When a woman shakes your entire hand with two fingers. Show some sincerity.. please??? I think hugs are always better and usually give them pretty freely to people that I know or haven't seen in awhile. During the flu season, I try to avoid anyone that looks like they want to sniffle. :)

    And at 6'7", I am sure John Baker had quite the handshake. He will be missed. :(

  • bleslie Nov 1, 2007

    I meet a lot of people in my business and I don't want this to sound like I'm bragging but here is my list. I shook Billy Graham's hand at his home at Montreat, Charles Kuralt's in Chapel Hill and the hands of first President Bush and wife Barbara. Others include Dean Smith, Roy Williams, Sean May, Raymond Felton, David Thompson, Roman Gabriel, John Grisham, Nicholas Sparks, Ira David Wood, Those are my most famous hands. Oh yeh, Doc Watson. That was another big one.




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