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Whole Lot of Shakin' Goin' On
Curry Kirkpatrick
February 16, 1981
The firm handclasp has gone the way of the set shot, now that everyone is slaphappy. First it was the low five. Then the high five. Who knows what next season's In five will be
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February 16, 1981

Whole Lot Of Shakin' Goin' On

The firm handclasp has gone the way of the set shot, now that everyone is slaphappy. First it was the low five. Then the high five. Who knows what next season's In five will be

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Simple and faithless as a smile and a shake of the hand.
—T.S. ELIOT, La Figlia che Piange

Pit Shake. Gary Bettenhausen beat Pancho Carter at Terre Haute, Ind. to win the USAC national dirt car championship, and moments after taking the checkered flag he risked serious injury while attempting a congratulatory handshake. "Pancho pulled alongside and shoved his left hand out," said Bettenhausen. "He was on the outside of me. I tried to reach out with my right hand, but our arms were about a foot short. With those wide tires we couldn't get any closer. We bumped wheels, and that's when we realized our arms were too short and we'd better give up."

The Laughing Five. John Jefferson of the San Diego Chargers caught a touchdown pass, placed the ball in the end zone grass and spun it on one end like a top. Then he looked over at his defender, pointed at the spinning ball and started laughing. Then he turned to a teammate and they slapped hands high above their heads.

Find Your Target. "This happened to me last year," says Marques Johnson of the Milwaukee Bucks. "Quinn Buckner gave me a really good pass and I went over to give him a high slap to congratulate him, you know, to thank him. But a couple of other guys went over to him at the same time. So, just as I was reaching up to slap his hand, he turned to slap with somebody else and I slapped him right upside the head. I knocked him backwards. I felt terrible—mainly stupid."

Closet Slappers. The Buffalo Sabres slap five with their padded gloves after a scoring play in practice but they rarely slap in real games.

Cartoon. In Tank McNamara an over-zealous football player begins to high-five a coach in the locker room. The coach goes with the regular handshake. The player cannot stop in time and breaks his hand on the ceiling water pipes.

Real-Life Cartoon. At Southern University in Baton Rouge, former football Coach Cass Jackson gave so many of his players the high five after they defeated Alcorn State that he suffered a chipped elbow. "The high five just about did me in," said Jackson. "But I don't mind it. I like it."

Falling Five. After defeating Andres Gomez in a grueling five-set match in last year's U.S. Open tennis championships, Mel Purcell walked to the stands to greet some friends. "Way to go, Mel," a fan yelled. Purcell then raised his arm to give a high five, swung, missed and fell into a pot of artificial flowers.

How Many? In the Sunday supplement The American Weekly of July 29, 1956, a new teen-age fad—the "Slap Me Fifty"—was described in words and pictures, a sequence that showed five ways to touch all 10 digits.

Providential Differences. Dave Gavitt, commissioner of the Big East Conference, coach of the 1980 Olympic basketball team and former coach at Providence College, says he "used to kid my players about it [the shake]. I'd tell them, 'Let's get it out of the way early because we've already lost about three jump balls getting it all in.' " Gerry Alaimo, former Brown basketball coach, who was dead set against the shake, says, "I was one of the last to change, to accept it. And I think it was one of the reasons I'm no longer coaching. If I hadn't been so conservative, so slow to adapt to things like that, I might still be coaching."

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