Accidental High Five

Straight back. Knees slightly bent. Abdomen tight. I strain, lifting the iron plates off the floor for the last time. Warm red tension floods my hamstrings, starting at my heels and climbing my back. A short "hup!" involuntarily sneaks out between my teeth. Pause. Lower. The plates ring. I sit.

“Nice lifts eh? Take it easy,” says Pedro.

I’ve seen Pedro several times a week for nearly 10 years. I don’t know his last name. I don’t know what he does for a living, his taste in music, whether he has a wife, children, or a full time job. I know he benches 225 (which isn’t bad for a guy who must weigh 160 pounds soaking wet). I know he has unbelievable abs, but can’t squat his own weight.

“See you Friday,” he concludes. He raises his hand: a casual, shy wave.

Inexplicably, I raise my hand.

From this position -- two men, with hands raised -- there are only two alternatives. Either one of us swears to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, or we must, by law, continue with the forward motion and give each other a high five.

And so, it happens. An accidental high five. Even worse, this foreign high five descends into a thumb-locked faux-bro handshake.

“Uh, yeah, see ya,” I say.

Awkward silence. We do not make eye contact. He says nothing more. He heads towards the door, pulls on his red, wool balaclava, and leaves.

Sitting on the frayed black vinyl of the weight bench, squirming with awkwardness, I replay the event like security camera footage, trying to decipher where this breakdown in boundaries occurred — what path of social retrograde has allowed me to deliver the accidental high five, followed by the faux-bro handshake. Why is the exchange so awkward? Or perhaps more importantly, why did it seem so natural for me to engender that high-five, where it clearly broke some unspoken rule.

I blame “Woot!”

The phrase “Woot!” burrowed itself into my common lexicon in the course of my deep, deep Counter-Strike addiction. Woot. The first time someone typed “\/\/00t!" in team chat, I didn’t need an explanation. I understood instinctively that this was a virtual post-touchdown high-five, given after the complete domination of another clan in an organized, best of 5 maps marathon.

Since those days — almost a decade ago — the cult-of-woot has extended into every game I’ve ever played online. Every level I make in World of Warcraft, whether it’s level 10, or level 50, has been greeted by a quickly typed “Grats” from guild members I have never, and will never meet in person. Every online game of Settlers of Catan where I have managed to eek out a screw-my-neighbor victory has garnered a “well played sir” or a “you slimy bastard” — high praise when coming from a friend. Even in games where I am cripplingly bad, forever trapped in the back of the bus with Elliot-the-fat-kid-with-glasses-who-eats-paste, there are rare moments when I float gently off the bottom of the scoreboard, and I can crow to my teammates “I’m not last!” They will casually support me, whispering "good going Rabbit" in my ear.

Playing games gives me something all too absent from my day-to-day life: a sense of acknowledged accomplishment. When I do play a game online, and I am, against all odds, successful, there is a culture of communal praise which is addictive. With the expanded community of the internet, where the discussion, reveling, and dissection of alternate worlds has become as natural as breathing, even single player games become stories told to sympathetic ears. Journeys through nuclear wastelands and underwater cities and ASCII fortresses become war-tales to be swapped across glasses of scotch on podcasts and forums. Phosphorous-fives fly high, without awkward looks, remorse or regret.

As I sit there on the weight bench, head bowed in shame, staring at the frayed black vinyl and my sweaty palms, with no small amount of sadness, I understand. I have come to take for granted the ethereal support of fellow warriors, travelers, companions and opponents. I have come to rely on the social rituals of gaming so much that I have lost my instinctive understanding of shared-but-solitary gym language, where acknowledgment is limited to a knowing nod, or mediated through the ritual of asking for a spot.

As Pedro walked by, my instinct was honed by online interactions, not physical ones. I have come to expect the constant, empty praise which serves as small talk. But there is no room in the physical world to reward every well executed Romanian dead lift with “woot.”

Instead, I am stuck with the sharp awkwardness of the accidental high five.

Comments

Quintin_Stone wrote:
Poppinfresh wrote:

I responded by beating him senseless, then burning his house down to hide all evidence. I committed suicide to avoid all memory of said awkward moment. Merry Christmas from the grave, bitches!

Zombie high-five!

...er, high-four, now...

Rabbit what would you have done if there was the butt smack?

Side note on the butt smack - Remember, the butt smack is an off on switch for athletes. Off the bench get a butt slap. turns you on, go in to game, play.... Come out of game, coach butt slaps you, turns you off, return to bench... Its all about context and giving the brother a little love.

This could have all been avoided by, upon realizing you had initiated an inappropriate high-five, doing the hair slick down maneuvar and shouting "ooooh, too slow!" as he engaged your unwelcome high five.

cmitts wrote:

Rabbit what would you have done if there was the butt smack?

Side note on the butt smack - Remember, the butt smack is an off on switch for athletes. Off the bench get a butt slap. turns you on, go in to game, play.... Come out of game, coach butt slaps you, turns you off, return to bench... Its all about context and giving the brother a little love.

Your definition of 'athelete' differs from mine

Elysium wrote:

maneuvar

Paging Certis to aisle one....

Maybe it is all this physical "touching" that is disturbing to us gamers. Since with in game chat a "woot" or a "grats" is the virtual equivalent to a high five. When our high five results in actual physical contact it's like "whoa what was that??" Time to wash the hands.

Gamers get out more and socialize!!!

PCman wrote:

Maybe it is all this physical "touching" that is disturbing to us gamers.
Gamers get out more and socialize!!!

But we touch keyboards and mice all the time..... and studies have shown that they're at least as dirty as our hands.... possibly because we've been touching them....

Ugh cn't..... typ.....nw

Duoae wrote:
PCman wrote:

Maybe it is all this physical "touching" that is disturbing to us gamers.
Gamers get out more and socialize!!!

But we touch keyboards and mice all the time..... and studies have shown that they're at least as dirty as our hands.... possibly because we've been touching them....

Ugh cn't..... typ.....nw

Maybe YOURS is. I clean mine at least weekly. I'm kind of a fanatic about clean electronics. I clean my game consoles, too.

As far as the root topic, I spend so much of my time on Awkward Island for so many reasons, I don't know if I would have felt any more out of place than usual. Particularly at the gym.

momgamer wrote:

Maybe YOURS is. I clean mine at least weekly. I'm kind of a fanatic about clean electronics. I clean my game consoles, too.

No surprise there, momgamer.

The big thing amongst me and my peers is the fist-pound. Its a chance to punch someone and get away with it! Just don't try it when the other guy is wearing a ring...

I don't really do high fives anymore. Last time someone tried giving me a high five, I thought they wanted me to stop. That was embarrassing...

momgamer wrote:
Duoae wrote:
PCman wrote:

Maybe it is all this physical "touching" that is disturbing to us gamers.
Gamers get out more and socialize!!!

But we touch keyboards and mice all the time..... and studies have shown that they're at least as dirty as our hands.... possibly because we've been touching them....

Ugh cn't..... typ.....nw

Maybe YOURS is. I clean mine at least weekly. I'm kind of a fanatic about clean electronics. I clean my game consoles, too.

Er, er, I claim the 5th!

Oh thank god!

I thought I was doing something wrong by never talking to people at the gym and never going for a high five there.

Turns out being awkward and pretending other people don't exist is the right thing to do for once.

Pffft. There's a simple lesson here: Don't go to the gym. Purchase an expensive piece of exercise equipment for your home and hang clothes on it like normal people.

NT wrote:

Pffft. There's a simple lesson here: Don't go to the gym. Purchase an expensive piece of exercise equipment for your home and hang clothes on it like normal people.

Heh.

rabbit wrote:
NT wrote:

Pffft. There's a simple lesson here: Don't go to the gym. Purchase an expensive piece of exercise equipment for your home and hang clothes on it like normal people.

Heh.

Hey, he has kids for that sort of exercise.... and they're more expensive!

Nice article. The high five can be difficult to administer correctly in certain social situations. That's why we here on the west coast generally go with the knuckle tap. It's quicker somehow and less formal, or at least seems so - or maybe it's just that the irony of the act between two non pro sports athletes is just so patently obvious that there's no need for shame. Either way, there's less germs spread since it's just your knuckles touching, so it's more hygienic.

Duoae wrote:
momgamer wrote:
Duoae wrote:
PCman wrote:

Maybe it is all this physical "touching" that is disturbing to us gamers.
Gamers get out more and socialize!!!

But we touch keyboards and mice all the time..... and studies have shown that they're at least as dirty as our hands.... possibly because we've been touching them....

Ugh cn't..... typ.....nw

Maybe YOURS is. I clean mine at least weekly. I'm kind of a fanatic about clean electronics. I clean my game consoles, too.

Er, er, I claim the 5th!

Aren't you British!?

momgamer wrote:
Duoae wrote:
momgamer wrote:
Duoae wrote:
PCman wrote:

Maybe it is all this physical "touching" that is disturbing to us gamers.
amers get out more and socialize!!!

But we touch keyboards and mice all the time..... and studies have shown that they're at least as dirty as our hands.... possibly because we've been touching them....

Ugh cn't..... typ.....nw

Maybe YOURS is. I clean mine at least weekly. I'm kind of a fanatic about clean electronics. I clean my game consoles, too.

Er, er, I claim the 5th!

Aren't you British!? ;)

Haha, that's why i claim the 5th rather than take it

Besides, England once ruled some of the US.... so i guess i could claim dual nationality?

Duoae wrote:
momgamer wrote:
Duoae wrote:
momgamer wrote:
Duoae wrote:
PCman wrote:

Maybe it is all this physical "touching" that is disturbing to us gamers.
amers get out more and socialize!!!

But we touch keyboards and mice all the time..... and studies have shown that they're at least as dirty as our hands.... possibly because we've been touching them....

Ugh cn't..... typ.....nw

Maybe YOURS is. I clean mine at least weekly. I'm kind of a fanatic about clean electronics. I clean my game consoles, too.

Er, er, I claim the 5th!

Aren't you British!? ;)

Haha, that's why i claim the 5th rather than take it

Besides, England once ruled some of the US.... so i guess i could claim dual nationality? ;)

You were wrong then, and you are wrong now: No, you cannot claim dual nationality.

Duoae is still trying desperately to hang on to the glory of the British Empire.

Sorry dude, you're a little late. :p

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Duoae is still trying desperately to hang on to the glory of the British Empire.

Sorry dude, you're a little late. :p

Taidaan wrote:

You were wrong then, and you are wrong now: No, you cannot claim dual nationality. ;)

Quiet you curs! Back to the workshops with you! :p

Faux bros 4 life!

I am constantly amazed at the new greetz invented by the Caribbean weed dealers who hang out near my university. It used to be a simple handslap pulled into a hug (but not a ghey kind of hug, the kind where you pound each other's back exactly two times and then BREAK). That was kind of okay, because it was simple enough that even the whitest kids (me) could pull it off and go home with a dime bag and a feeling of not-lameness.

Now they do some kind of crazy-ass bouncing dance while they hold hands and apparently thumb-wrestle. I am expecting back flips to be incorporated in 2009.

I make a habit of walking up to people who have their hands full, raising my hand, and shouting, "high five!"

Clemenstation wrote:

ghey

Bring on the queer theory assaults!

Clemenstation wrote:

:)

Bring on the queer theory assaults!

I think it's more the internet spelling that saddens Wordy.

Somehow it seems less offensive if you spell it wrong...

but no, there's no digging out of this hole.

So... .... ... anyone here like video games?

MrDeVil909 wrote:
Clemenstation wrote:

:)

Bring on the queer theory assaults!

I think it's more the internet spelling that saddens Wordy.

To reiterate:

Clemenstation wrote:

:)

Bring on the queer theory assaults!

No Judith Butler? Helene Cixous? Anyone?

Would citing other people really make a difference in your diction?

Well, no, but then I would be chastised both grammatically and from a normative theoretical standpoint.

Sort of like when someone is sawing you in half in Gears of War 2, and then their buddy comes up to saw you as well from the other side. It doesn't make a difference - you're still dead - but the psychological implications are enormous.