Charley has been trying for at least two years to get me to stop shaking hands after tennis matches. He claimed that I was picking up germs during a handshake of even moderate strength that lasted for just a few seconds.
I watched the men doing their fist bumps after matches and told him I thought it would be insulting to finish a match and approach someone across the net as though I were going to punch her. The ladies give firm handshakes to be polite, win or lose. We don't want to be viewed as poor sports, and certainly not competitors with a wimpy grasp, even if wet and slimy. In fact, I seem to remember a rule in the Palm Beach County Women's Tennis Association handbook about the necessity of handshakes after matches. There's a rule for everything else, so that must be covered, too.
"Suit yourself," Charley said.
Turns out he was right.
According to a study at the Institute of Biological, Environmental, and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University in Wales, fist bumps are 20 times more hygienic than handshakes and 10 times more hygienic than high-fives. It's because the fists have a smaller area that touch each other during the bump. Handshakes, on the other hand (ha ha), have an average of 24.4 square inches of contact and last an average of three seconds, longer than high-fives and fist bumps. An average of 124 million colony-forming units of E.coli were transferred during the three-second handshake in the tests.
That's right, researchers at the Institute actually donned sterile gloves and dunked their hands in "a soup of de-fanged Escherichia coli bacteria, then shook hands, high-fived, or fist-bumped with one another."
In addition, they used an instrument to measure the grip strength of various handshakes and found strong handshakes transferred the most bacteria.
Imagine a researcher coming home from work and the wife asks, "Did you have a rough day, dear?"
"Oh, it was lethal."
I'm still not convinced I could approach someone with my fist after a match. So I have another solution. Why not do the butt bump? It would be a lot more fun and wouldn't transfer any germs. I know I'd enjoy seeing NFL players doing the butt bump instead of handshakes!
- Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
- Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in teaching, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with advanced degree from R.I. School of Design. Published first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Her humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. See website By CLICKING HERE.