I get the willies when I recall some of the greeting faux pas I made when I was in the States. This was the LA of the nineties, uber-California and uber-cool; lots of white folk round with soul patches, paisley bandanas and a reticent disposition. Compensated largely by the far-from-simple, elaborate hand-clasp, the Soul Shake. And meeting them for a first time (me being an uncouth and awkward Irishman) was often an overture of missed hand-clasps and feinted puckerings, mid air. These missed clasps caused embarrassment of high calibre and stumbling starts to budding relationships.
Ironically, greeting African Americans was so much easier, coz they just took a look at this blue eyed fair-skinned Irishmen and thought, naw, never happen and they’d opt for the more traditional clasp.
It’s been a salutary lesson in dexterity.