Monday, May 11, 2009


This phrase caught my eye this morning, from an entry in the Globe & Mail's "Social Studies" column:

Health experts advise coughing into your elbow, and instead of shaking hands touch [sic] elbows.

It's the flu scare, of course, but I, for one, want to know more about the "experts" who are trying to overturn an ages-old custom on what appears, at least to this observer, to be a whimsical impulse. Yes, yes, clean hands are important when there's a plague about, but it's probably better simply not to put them in your mouth or touch food after you've coughed into them--you know, the elementary precautions beaten into us by parents and kindergarten schoolteachers.

But "experts" are speaking. Experts. Never mind terrorist fist jabs, now it's the elbow dap, on the streets and in the corridors of power. Stephen Harper, meet Michael Ignatieff. Michael, meet Stephen. (Ouch! Maybe a little practice is needed, gentlemen.)

Nope, won't do. Too fraught with danger, to one's funnybone and the ribs of others. If physical contact is now under the ban, may I suggest a simpler substitution, with centuries of use behind it? On meeting, men and women should simply bow--or, failing that, curtsey. But then, I'm no expert.

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