Monday, May 01, 2006

On the eventual triumph of Eastern Civilization over Western Civilization

If you haven't read the previous post, I humbly suggest that you start there. Go! Go ahead! I'll wait for you below these asterisks!


Finished? All right, good. Quiz time.

1. How do Westerners greet each other?

If you answered "Handshake", you get a point. You get a bonus point if you said "Air kissing, if by 'Westerner' you mean 'European'."

2. How do Easterners greet each other?

If you said "Bowing," then you're two for two, assuming that you got the previous question correct as well. If you got the bonus, then I guess you're three for two. That's like 150%!

3. Which of these two methods of greeting can potentially spread disease?

You can see where I'm going with this.

As far as things that I worry about go, H5N1 rates significantly below getting stuck in an elevator with a girl on the list of things that keep me up at night. The first time I heard the sentiment expressed that the world is long overdue for its next pandemic, be it bubonic plague or whatever, was when I read Robert A. Heinlein's "Friday", which was written twenty-five years ago.

However, I don't believe that discussion of H5N1 is merely so much feverish air. Is the idea of a Spanish-Flu-proportioned pandemic really so far-fetched? This doesn't mean it will happen anytime soon, or even within the next century, but consider it thusly: If there is a 1% chance of a pandemic every year, there is a 100% chance of a pandemic occurring within the next 100 years. Don't believe me? Flip a coin twice. According to the laws of probability, there is a 100% chance of getting heads at least once.

Even the strongest skeptic must concede that there is at least a slight possibility of pandemic, and it's easier to consider preventive measures now than when we're busy coping with such severe symptoms as fever, headache, fatigue, sore joints, sneezing, and chills. We have nothing to lose by adopting my simple proposed preventive measure, and everything to gain.

I'm not the first to predict the "demise of the handshake", and I was inspired to write this when I read an article about how the WHO is actively promoting the elbow bump as the societally acceptable form of greeting. But honestly, bumping elbows is retarded. Everyone thinks so. Just ask anyone.

But you know what's about an infinity times cooler than the elbow bump? Bowing. You know, like the Japanese ninja did before they commenced serious flipping out. Unlike the elbow bump, bowing is awesome. Also unlike the elbow bump, people already do it. It doesn't spread disease, and it serves the same purpose as the handshake in displaying a certain amount of vulnerability. (Shaking with your right hand shows that you're unarmed, bowing exposes the hands and the back of the neck.)

The benefits don't end there. Remember back in elementary school, when bullies would beat you up every day on the playground during recess? Then, when you had finally managed to stagger back to your feet, they would offer you a handshake as a sign of reconciliation? Foolishly, you would reach for their hand, your heart full of gratitude and relief that perhaps, finally, your torment was ending. Of course, your torment was only just beginning; they would grab your arm and pull you down again, stomping your face into the dry, coarse playground sand. Don't you remember the taste of every grain of that sand, slowly mingling with the taste of your own blood as you swore that one day, you'd have your revenge, and by God, it would be sweet?

With bowing, none of that second part would happen.

So go on! Next time somebody moves as if to shake your hand, respond appropriately by recoiling in terror from the unseen millions of germs that await you. Show them how real men and geishas alike greet each other: with a display of submission. The alternative is to go down in history as the Typhoid Mary of the 21st century and to watch, helplessly, as Western civilization shakes hands with disease-ridden doom and is hopelessly overrun by the impeccably sterile, yet insidiously crafty Nipponese.



Post a Comment

<< Home