You know when you’re sitting at your desk and you launch a wadded up ball of past-due invoices Bozo-bucket style with your non-dominant hand into the farthest trash receptacle possible and it banks dramatically off the neighboring cubical before falling gently into place? Then with the elation of Scrooge McDuck backstroking through money, you pose – hand held high – and the guy sitting next to you who witnessed the entire phenomenon simply….nods. There is absolutely no lower moment in the human experience than the unrequited high five.
The five – high or otherwise – has long been a celebratory gesture of successes large or small. Never has a single act been equally appropriate as recognition for making the winning touchdown, giving birth to a child, or finding a nickel on the subway. The magically fleeting moment when a hand slaps yours yields a lasting sensation of pride and well-earned superiority. There’s no greater gift.
Yet we can’t dole out this instant gratification willy-nilly. There are guidelines to this art that have clearly fallen by the wayside in favor of lazy Facebook pokes and the infamous I-don’t-want-to-look-foolish-by-offering-the-slap-you-deserve-so-instead-I’ll-just-nod nods. You have to find the five that works for you and own it. My dear friend, Eric, and I regularly practice the across-the-room air five – a risky move that puts both parties in the vulnerable position of having their raised hands going unnoticed. Only assert this skill with extreme confidence in your fiving partner. And if you really want to go out on a limb, stand on your tippiest of toes and stretch your hand so high Jane Fonda would be proud, and just stay there until your fiving counterpart jumps his hand up to meet you.
But have no fear as there are fives for every scenario and skill level: Snatch the report card from the mailbox before mom gets home from work = sly behind the back five. Knock someone off their high horse = obnoxiously loud reverberating five. Skillfully spike a volleyball amongst the distraction of gorgeous shirtless fighter pilots = Top Gun five.
We’ve come a long way from the “down low too slow” days, but it seems the only ones still high fiving with abandon are me, my high-fiver in crime Eric, and Barney Stinson. So next time your waiter remembers to remove the tomatoes from your burger, or your best friend loses three pounds, or your boss approves your vacation time, I challenge you to smile with pride, whip out your hand, and smack the heck out of them.