I slowly started seeing friends again. (Months after everyone else, yes. I didn’t want to be the guy who left the 18th wave of COVID.) Everything seems pretty much back to normal, except that the pandemic has changed the way we used to greet each other.

I thought that after years of distancing, people would be so lacking in human contact that greetings between friends might become more ostentatious, to compensate. A big French, hands on the buttocks, rubbing on each other, something like that.

Being an introvert, that scared me a little.

But no, ultimately.

The handshake, the hug and the pecks on the cheeks, momentarily replaced by just about anything, like the absurd high five in the void from two meters away, have not become habits again.

Before the pandemic, we followed the rhythm imposed by the more extroverted of the two people: “Two beaks on the cheeks? OK ! Ah, a little hug with that, well, let’s go! or “Just a handshake even though we’ve known each other 10 years?” It’s okay with me. “It lasted two seconds, it was settled and we quickly moved on.

We observe each other, we gauge each other, who will make the first move and, above all, what will it be? We try to assess the tolerance of the other, so we observe each other for a moment, tight smile, arms hanging down, without doing anything. And you think, “Do we usually kiss each other?” Looks messy to me? Are we going back to that or is this person going to back off to prevent us from spreading germs to each other? Am I going to offend him if I hug him? Do I really want a hug? Is that a bit overkill? Seems a little too emotional for my taste. Oh misery. This moment is endless. Is this person going to make a move, let’s get it over with, or should I take the lead, or risk making a faux pas? Will she find it a bit cold if I just give her a handshake, like I’m meeting my banker or we’re in a job interview? She’ll think I’m not happy to see her! I may be better off doing nothing, I don’t feel like being the source of discomfort. If I’m too sticky, I’ll look like a guy who hasn’t figured out how viruses spread yet. I’ll wait for her to do something. BUT SHE DOES NOTHING! Can’t we smile endlessly at the entrance to the apartment without saying anything? »

The moment when we get together and break the ice has sometimes become as laborious as solving a Rubik’s cube without hands. Because we haven’t replaced what we were doing before with something else. It seems to me that it is time for us to find a clear gesture, which would be unanimous.

The fist bump, that little punch to punch, has an unsatisfying je ne sais quoi. To me, it’s too much like a quick drug deal in a back alley to become the norm. The nudge, invented during the pandemic, requires unsightly contortions, and I don’t know why people often stick their tongues out while doing it. It’s not fancy chic, and it probably spreads germs.

While waiting for something to be found, I circumvent the embarrassing moment by creating a diversion. “I’ll take your coat, oh, a bottle of wine, wow, you shouldn’t have!” I look at the label, I say anything about this wine that I don’t know… “Ah ben ah ben, a merlot, you!” Worse a 2019, apart from that! I say in amazement, like I have no idea if it’s a good year or a shit year, merlotment speaking.

What will it be? I thought of a surprise dance: we start wriggling in front of the other, on a choreography of our choice: someone does the Achy Breaky Dance, the other goes up with the latest choreography found on TikTok. One launches with the gestures of La fureur, the other counter-attacks with an astounding flamenco dance accompanied by castanets and dramatic heel clicks. A Lambada, a Gangnam Style, conk poof, greetings are done.

Shall we try this this week and see how it goes?