1. Your handshake could be too weak and floppy and they will think you want them to kiss your hand.
2. You could be going for a regular handshake when they are going for one of those archaic “lock thumbs followed by fingertips to fingertips friction” handshakes and it will seem like you were just trying to hold their hand instead of having a hearty “bro” greeting.
3. Your handshake could be too firm and crush their finger bones together so that they will say “You’re hurting me!” just as you’re saying “Great to meet you!”
4. They could go in for a cheek kiss when you are going in for a hug and you could end up creepily kissing the back of their neck by accident.
5. You could go in for a stage-left cheek kiss when they are going in for a house-right cheek kiss so that you end up inappropriately tilting your heads and kissing each other on the lips.
6. You could end up enveloping their fist with your hand like you are trying to beat them at paper-rock-scissors.
7. You could inadvertently hug them in a way that they will later describe as “condescending.”
8. You could inadvertently hug them in a way that they will later describe as “lingering.”
9. You could inadvertently hug them in a way that they will later describe as “breasty.”
10. They might say, “What are you doing?” as you approach them for a hug when they were expecting a handshake.
11. They might say, “Whoa there, Cowboy!” as you approach them for a hug when they were expecting a handshake.
12. They might whisper, “You will never succeed at anything.” as you approach them for a hug when they were expecting a handshake.
13. You could miss the high five.
14. You could go for the high five and be left hanging.
15. You could go for the high five and be left hanging on national television.
16. You could go for the high five and be left hanging and decide to pretend like you were just scratching your head but nobody will believe you.
17. You could make the high five and then go for “down low” as they viciously pull their hand away and yell “too slow!”
18. You could make the high five too emphatically and injure your best facepalming hand.
19. You could go in for a “Cheers” and cause them to spill some of their drink.
20. You could go in for a “Cheers” and cause them to spill all of their drink.
21. You could go in for a “Cheers” and smash your own glass against their glass in a way that ruins the party and your sexual viability in one loud and glassy and irrevocable moment.
22. You could say, “Nice to meet you,” when you’ve met them already.
23. You could say “Nice to meet you,” when you’ve met them already that day.
24. You could say, “Nice to meet you,” when you’ve dated them already.
25. Your palms could be sweaty and they could say, “I wanted a handshake, not a finger bath.”
26. When you hug them, you might decide at the last second to pat them on the back as if you were trying to comfort them and then not know why you did that.
27. You could go in for a handshake just as the other person is going in for a handshake with a third person so that you have to pretend that you were just practicing finger extensions, which everybody knows is not a real thing.
28. You could greet someone with the wrong name.
29. You could introduce yourself with the wrong name.
30. It could turn out that you are one of those people who says, “The sky,” when someone says “What’s up?”
31. You could both reach in too far and end up grabbing each others’ wrists.
32. It could turn out that you are one of those people who says, “Not so great, actually,” when someone says, “How are you doing?”
33. You could both reach in too far and end up tickling each others’ forearms.
34. It could turn out that you are one of those people who kisses people’s hands and says “M’lady” like you are a dashing knight in a Medieval romance instead of an insufferable teenager in a fedora.
35. You could both reach in too far and end up in an elbow-swing like you are trying to square dance with them.
36. You might be too tall for them so that your hug could more accurately be described as “clutching them to your bosom.”
37. You might be too short for them and end up hugging their bottom.
38. They might refuse your handshake because they’ve got a cold.
39. They might refuse your handshake because you’ve got a cold.
40. They might refuse your handshake because they think you are a horrible person.
41. You could run across the airport in slow motion to passionately greet them after a long absence only to discover that they are running across the airport in slow motion to passionately greet someone else.
42. They could smile at you and have something in their teeth.
43. They could smile at you and have no teeth.
44. You could accidentally call them Laurence when their name is Lorne.
45. You could accidentally call them Laurence when their name is Laura.
46. You could accidentally call them Laurence when their name is Sam.
47. You could go in to give someone a friendly back rub and get rejected.
48. You could go in to give someone a friendly back rub and cause an international incident.
49. You could bow too low and be crucified in the media.
50. You could fail to bow and be burned alive in a fiery furnace.
51. You could wave to someone and fall off your bike.
52. You could be in a country that demands multiple cheek kisses when you are frankly only prepared to give one or two at most.
53. You could be in a country that views your attempt to give a stranger a cheek kiss as basically a major religious insult.
54. You could be involved in a horrifying four-way high five disaster.
55. You might accidentally violently high five someone in the eye.
56. Or the face.
57. You might be the cause of some major high-five collateral damage.
58. Or you might foolishly attempt to high five someone when you are skateboarding a bunch of coffees over to the meeting.
59. You might become involved in the dreaded “high-five-to-hand-clasp-to-awkward-hug” greeting scenario.
60. Or the soul-destroying “up-high-to-down-low-switch-and-miss.”
61. Or you could be involved in a once-in-a-generation “two-handed-shake-fail” topped with a rejected hug and shoulder nuzzle.
62. You might end up being the third wheel in a handshake.
63. Your handshake attempt could go so wrong that it ends up as a form of pattycake.
64. You might try to high five a blind person.
65. Or you could simply be too slow…
66. … too inept …
67. … or too mind-bendingly awkward ever to be seen in public.
Let’s all just remember that although this nightmare will probably never end, at least we’re all in it together.
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