The Immaculate High Five

Posted on August 29, 2011


The slap of our hands cut through the air and reverberated off the walls.  Each of us stared at our hands, frozen in the air, both unsure of what we had just experienced.  We spoke in unison, “What just happened?”

July 28, 2011 started like any other day.  I got out of bed and put my pants on both legs at a time (a long-standing policy meant to contradict those who say we all put our pants on one leg at a time), little suspecting that by the end of the day I would have made history for being one half of the world’s greatest high five.

For those of you unfamiliar with the high five or how it works, allow me to cite Wikipedia:

The high five is a celebratory hand gesture that occurs when two people simultaneously raise one hand, about head high, and push, slide or slap the flat of their palm and hand against the palm and flat hand of their partner. The gesture is often preceded verbally by the phrase “Give me five” or “High five”.

Wikipedia cites the first high five as probably taking place in the late seventies, although I’m sure history must have witnessed earlier instances of accidental high fiving.  Maybe hundreds of years ago two myopic farmers waved to each other without realizing how close they were standing and accidentally slapped hands, and the two never repeated the gesture because religious pressures of the day made them experience shame for how awesome the high five made them feel. 

My friend Arran and I have long discussed the finer points of a good high five.  It can’t be too hard and should never sting the hand.  It shouldn’t be too soft or no energy will be created and the two high fivers will wonder if the impotence of the high five somehow reflects their relationship.  The hand shouldn’t be completely flat, but should offer a very slight cupping shape that flattens at the moment of impact.  The point of exact impact is also important and Arran is a proponent of looking at the other party’s elbow instead of the palm as a trick to ensure perfect placement.  If the speed, strength, hand cupping, and strikepoint placement are done properly, positive energy will be created and transferred to both participants, who will have created for themselves a momentary connection of brotherly goodwill. 

After our last dress rehearsal in Shanghai before coming to Edinburgh, I attended a small party with friends, little knowing that history was about to be made.  I said to Arran, “Can you believe we’re going to Edinburgh to perform in the Fringe?”  Arran and I raised our hands to high five, neither of us suspecting something magical was about to happen.  Our hands slapped together in a perfect combination of speed, strength, hand cupping, and placement and a huge pulse of positive energy burst through my entire body, the high five equivalent of the line in Bohemian Rhapsody when Freddie Mercury sings “send shivers down my spine” and a bell tree is heard.

I stared at my hand for a moment before looking up at Arran and realizing his expression mirrored my own look of stupefication.

“What just happened?”
“I’ve never felt anything like that before.”
“Neither have I.”
“Did you feel like time stopped for a moment as though the fabric of the space-time continuum had torn?”
“Yes.  That’s exactly what I felt.”
“I’ve been high-fiving a long time.”
“I, too, am no stranger in the ways of the high five.”
“And that was the greatest high five ever!”

We asked the other party guests if they had noticed anything unusual during our high five, maybe an inability to move as though time had stopped or maybe a burst of light had temporarily blinded them or maybe they were encompassed by a feeling of reverence that they were in the presence of something great. 

None of them had.  In fact they all expressed skepticism that anything out of the ordinary had occurred.  I assume they were skeptical because everyone has high-fived and they didn’t want to believe something they had experienced 10,000 times could have been taken to the next level. 

I keep trying to tell people about the Imacculate High Five, but most don’t want to believe.  I assure you it happened, it was incredible, and if you believe, maybe the perfect high five could some day happen to you.  After all, it happened to me and I’m just a regular guy like anyone else–anyone else who puts his pants on both legs at a time. 

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