Subscribe to Bourne's Blog Grab My Feed!Subscribe to Bourne's Blog Subscribe to Comments

Pleasantries Gone Wrong



* I’m crazy-busy with final Fantasy Camp preparations, so I thought I’d run an old, rambling, classic that continues to plague my existence.  Enjoy.


WHAT’S UP, GOOD – Feb. 10th


How hilariously awkward and awful are pleasantries gone wrong?  There’s nothing worse than this moment.  It’s absolute buffoonery to answer “what’s up” with “good”, but man, does it continue to happen.  I can’t even watch someone else do it without blushing.  You just weren’t up to the task of that complex question, eh?  But I do it all the time.

“Hey, how’s it going?” 

“Not much, you?”

It’s just awful.  There’s not even a good way to correct yourself.  “AhhhhhI’m an idiot” is about the best you can muster.  We all just wanna get through that monotonous first part of the conversation because, ultimately, those questions just aren’t sincere.  Nobody actually wants to know how you are or what’s going on.  We’re all just trying to get to the meat of the conversation. 

And I know you’ve met the person who’s completely oblivious to these social laws.  They’re everywhere, and I cannot stand these people.  When the “how are you question” comes out, we all just say good, okay?  Everyone has agreed upon this, unless the relationship is family, or the word friend is preceeded by boy, girl, or best.

“Heyyy, how’s it going?”

“I fell on the ice a month ago shovelling the driveway and it put my back out so now one of my legs is shorter than the other and it gave me nerve damage so I have to sleep in a hyperbaric chamber”.

Tough break, but nobody cares.  Society has a deal.  We spare other people our miseries, because we all have them.  Maybe that’s not the same as the awkward pleasantries mess-up, but it’s worthy of mention.  How about the befuddlement Bri brought up:

“Enjoy your flight”

“You too”

You don’t even try to correct that one.  The person at the airline counter doesn’t care, everyone knows what’s happened.  It’s not even worth a 15 word follow-up to straighten out.  “Have a good” is usually preceeded by day, not flight.  You rolled the dice, you gambled, you lost, so be it.  Go get an US Weekly and an eight dollar pint and wait for your flight to board.

But you know what’s even more awkward than this?  The bad hand shake.  The knuckles thing has thrown it all off because old white guys do it so much now.  Not that this is a problem, but there’s still a few who opt out of the pound, so you never know what you’re dealing with.  As a 26 year old, I think old white guys assume I’m young so we should do the knuckles thing.  Maybe on the golf course after a good putt or something, I dunno.  We really have to set some guidelines for this debacle.






I think the handshake is perfect.  What’s to tinker with?  I get the germ-free quality of the pound.  But there’s a mutual respect to the handshake that I love.  What’s even more confusing now, is the people who want to do the upright handshake pull-in thing.  This works fine if the two guys are on the same page, but if you aren’t it’s a complete disaster.  It takes a thorough evaluation of your relationship with the guy to know if it’s a pull-in shake or not.  You don’t want to assume the pull-in.  But if you go level and the other guy is upright, it’s pure chaos.

The less popular back slap/handjob greeting

The less popular back slap/handjob greeting


It's cool if we go upright even though I'm white, right?

It's cool if we go upright even though I'm white, right?










You can taint an otherwise perfect day by leaving it on a bad shake. You need an exit strategy.  I spent a half hour trying to make a chart for this situation, but there’s too many variables.  Excitement.  When you last saw the guy.  How well you knew them before.  It’s definitely going to continue to remain troublesome, but you can apply a couple loose rules.

 The high five after a great sporting moment is way better than the pound.  Provided, of course, that you mix in a momentary clasp.  You can’t go beyond the guys hand with the five like you missed, and you can’t mutually push up after contact (whitest move ever).  Do the five, clasp, bring it low, done.  Not feminine, not too white, it’s okay. 



The pound should be reserved for the solemn positive moments.  It says: “nice, I knew you were gonna make that putt”, not: “sssiiicckkk 40 foot putt!!!”, pound.  Not the occasion.

If you’re unsure in any greeting circumstance, shake the hand.  No greeting is a solid as the firm, couple second shake with eye contact.  You only go to the upright-pull-in phase if you and the other person share a memory together.  You know, a night at the strip club, a round of golf, that night you drank Cuervo til you started chanting “Jose” like Euro soccer fans do “Ole”.  Any of those.  Acquaintances don’t do the pull in, okay?  It’s never assumed.

Bri and I were dying laughing about this last night when our cluster$#%& of a goodnight had to be red-flagged and laughed at.  We need Obama to come down with firm greeting rules that we’ll all agree to abide by.  I mean, I need to know - in New York they mix in the kiss greeting, and I’m gonna end up kissing her Dad if I don’t figure out the damn rules.  So I’m out of here.


“I love you too”


9 Responses to “Pleasantries Gone Wrong”
  1. Chris says:

    Ha! Great entry. Along the lines of your “Enjoy your flight” “You too” example I recently took part in a similar goof:

    Waiter: Enjoy your meal.
    Me: You, too!

    The worst part was when he and I locked eyes for just that moment and he looked away and almost pretneded not to hear it- because he knew I felt like a dope AS the words came out of my mouth. Sigh lol.

  2. SDC says:

    I just watched the Lesnar-Couture UFC fight from a while ago, and in Lesnar’s victory speech he said,”…The Lord gave me my body and my mind, so God bless…uherm…God bless you (eyes pointing to the sky, asking God to bless Himself).” Definitely aware of his blunder, yet followed through with the delivery.

  3. margarita says:

    I definitely have answered “good” to “what’s up”.
    and I didn’t know how to fix it so I just avoided eye contact and yelled at myself in my head. I was pretty mean too, there was a lot of “oh my god, how white are you?!”
    But i think the funniest one was when i told my teacher to have a nice day and he responded “love you too”. I don’t even think that one made sense, but it was the second most uncomfortable moment of my life.

  4. Chris (TheMetalChick) says:

    This is great.

    For women, the equivalent of the ‘pull’ in is, I think, the ‘kiss on the cheek coupled with a hug’ thing. there are girls you talk to for 10 minutes who think that you are already at that stage and I am like o, dont think so. but what exactly do you do about it? If its coming, you have to act like its appropriate- even when it isnt.

  5. hockeygirl3 says:

    probley still to this day one of my favourite entries! makes me laugh everytime i read it

  6. The Average Revolution says:

    Mr Bourne,
    Excellent post! Please consider my recommendation and try using it in various situations. Use the word “average.” When someone asks how you are doing, mast of the time, your not doing bad, nor all that good. Be honest, tell them average. People will often give you funny looks, but you will know that they ARE turning around and using it for the next person that asks them. Also, give it a shot in other situations, “How is your mea?” “average”, etc.
    Report back.

  7. minnesotagirl71 says:

    This is a classic! Embrace those awkward moments!

    You should write one regarding the sports celebration gone wrong – one guy puts his hand up for the high five, while the other comes at him fast for a leaping chest bump. Yikes!

    Last year Mikko Koivu fell right on his a$$ (unassisted) duing a post goal cele. Hello embarassing moment with thousands of viewers and follow up questions from all the local reporters. He was a good sport about it.

  8. fish says:

    People I know for years get a kiss, people i just met don’t get a kiss.

    When I was 16 I was a skater/rollerblader/bmxer. I knew the guys from hanging every day, so thy got a kiss. One of the guys brought his sister, she was very good looking but I didn’t know her so I shook her hand and kissed her brother…

    That was awkward.


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. [...] (PS – If you have time and haven’t read my take on socially awkward greetings, you can check it out at: [...]

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!