Grandpa, tell me about the 2010s. Is it really true you would have unprotected handshakes with multiple people a day? Sorry, I know that’s weird to ask, but according to some of my friends at school and what they show in older movies, people did it all the time back then.

Did they really not know any better? How rampant was it really, though? Like, was the free-handshaking just going on at some of the wilder music festivals and on certain, more free-spirited college campuses and communes? Or was it really happening everywhere among everyone, like people these days make it seem: acquaintances on public street corners, work colleagues in reputable places of businesses, even congregants at houses of worship? I mean, doing it with people you love and are otherwise already physically intimate kind of makes sense with enough context, maybe, but man… it all sounds so wild.

I just find it very hard to believe. Like, I am sure it was maybe not quite as commonly understood to be hazardous as it is now that we have science and stuff, but still… just gripping a bare hand like that? Rubbing the full inner surface and wrapping every digit, always your dominant hand too? And directly after you’ve touched countless surfaces and orifices? And then immediately shaking another bare hand that you clearly know had also just shaken multiple hands without any protection? And on top of all that, you guys barely washed your hands back then — like only in bathrooms and maybe before meals, right? Old-timey work pods didn’t even have regular full-body sanitization and contamination checks. That all came after the 2020 Plague at most places, yeah?

That’s all an exaggeration, though, isn’t it? That can’t be what it was like in reality, right? People obviously recognized how risky and, frankly, gross that was, didn’t they? It surely wasn’t some totally thoughtless part of the daily routine like it’s portrayed. Like, the way they show it now, people would shake hands the same way we optically scan each other’s Facebook Datasets. It was a different time, I know, but surely people weren’t uneducated barbarians back then. They took part in regular hygiene and grooming and went to doctors and stuff. They must have had some common sense, right?

I know it’s unfair to judge different times and cultures by our current standards. But it’s just really gross. I nearly threw up the first time I saw it in an old movie, and it still makes me uncomfortable whenever there’s a shake scene. Why even include it? And it’s so gratuitous too. It usually doesn’t add anything to the story. Sure, I am kind of desensitized to it now, but I still don’t like it.

I know a lot of things were different then, like those cars that required manual steering and internet connections that still couldn’t break the machine-mind barrier, but I still can’t get over all the meaningless exposed hand-to-hand contact. And it was everyone? Even you? No offense, but I just can’t picture that. You seem so traditional. Do you ever miss it? Are you ever tempted to put on a glove and relive any of it? Or would it that be just too traumatic?