NO! I do NOT want to shake your hand!

I believe that life has a way of teaching us valuable lessons before we are able to destroy ourselves through careless misconduct. Allow me to elaborate with an instructional tale.

Professor Plum came into my workplace often, always a pleasant and kind customer. Since he is so high above me in social standing (I am still a student), I shook his hand whenever he extended it in greeting, even though this practice made me feel uncomfortable. Many handshakes thereafter occurred without incident, and the splendid conversation that always ensued led me to think it would be acceptable to maintain this level of physical contact with a stranger.

I should have known something was wrong when he began to hold my hand for a second after our handshake was complete. After a while, he began to cup his left hand over our clasped hands during the handshake. Apparently, he had begun to regard me with an eye of favor, for he presented me with an engagement ring about a week ago. I asked him if he was serious. He looked me straight on and said “Yes.” As much as I like him, I told him I couldn’t accept it, whereupon he grew morose and left the building. Now he’s in another country.

WHAT! More importantly, HOW??

There’s only one possible reason: I shook his hand, or rather, I allowed him the liberty of shaking mine. What else could it be? I am at a loss. I took care never to speak to him in a flirtacious, “charming,” or sexually suggestive manner. And it can’t be how I dress. Every day, I wear plain useful quiet shoes, thick stockings, skirts that extends to my ankles (no slits), and collared long-sleeved shirts. This dress code applies regardless of the temperature. My hair is always tied neatly in a bun. I don’t want men to look at me, and I certainly don’t want them to propose to me. He knew this. Why did he have to embarrass me?

It doesn’t matter. Forget it! I am done, done, done!!! No more bantering with men for my own vanity. No more cute witty Shakespearean quotes to puzzle those who have a care to try to “figure me out” or to impress those who don’t. No more musings on hyperspace, or whether Hebrew was the Edenic language, or why bacteria have no circadian rhythms, or Milton’s treatment of the felix culpa, or whether there are any Heldentenors in our era who can sing Wagner properly. I have learned a valuable lesson: From now on I will keep my mouth shut and my hands to myself. NEVER again will I shake hands with a man, and NEVER again will I talk with a man in a non-business setting unless there’s someone else present. This is the only way to reclaim my dignity.

I feel better now. Carry on.

dont worry it’s him. speaking as a guy, i can tell ya that we have this tendency to blow things out of proportion in our heads. dont worry about it

Margeuerite, please take the advice of a woman who’s probably twice your age (me). Your conduct was impeccable. HE’S the one with the problem. You were neither “careless” nor engaged in “misconduct”

Please do not fall into the trap of thinking you somehow did something or didn’t do something that contributed to the problem. You didn’t. You’re innocent here. DON’T change your behavior, you’re doing fine. Unfortunately, there are men that are so screwed up in the head they regard normal, politely distant social interaction with the opposite sex as some sort of invitation. That is their dysfunction.

Next time, when a man starts doing the “cupping your hand after a handshake” thing tell him politely that you wish to keep things strictly business and with no personal involvement. Repeat as necessary. If he doesn’t get the message, start refusing to shake hands with him, and if asked why, state that he is making you uncomfortable. Use your common sense, of course, you seem to have a fair amount of it.

Good job, sister. Unfortunately, this will probably come up again from time to time. Take the high road - be polite, curteous, and firm. Do not blame yourself.

How bizarre. It sounds like he is either completely delusional, or possibly from a culture where courtship is conducted through handshaking (is there such a place?) Either way, I can’t imagine it’s the sort of thing that you’ll have to deal with again.

Besides, it’s gauche for a man to extend his hand to a lady in greeting. If she extends it to him, then the gentleman may gently grasp it for a moment.

Or, am I being too genteel here?

ill just stick to bowing:D

That’s in a social setting; this was a professional setting. The person of higher status offers a hand first and initiate using first names rather than titles and last names.

Obviously, the professor finds her first name charming and wanted to use it, but knew he could not do so properly without being engaged.

I think that the occasional acciental sight of the OP’s well-turned ankles drove him to it.

I didn’t know they had the internet in the 19th Century.

Thanks, GuanoLad, I thought it was just me. I’ve seen some zombie threads before, but revived after 110 years has to be a record.

That IS biazarre. He sounds like he has some reality issues. Maybe you can suggest he go to a psychologist?