In today’s Impromptus, which is Part I of a cruise journal, I mention a Jamaican practice: You offer knuckles — a.k.a. a fist bump, a kind of handshake — and say “Respect” (alternatively, “Respec’”). I got a letter from a friend of mine I thought you’d enjoy. He once worked as a bouncer in L.A. He now blogs here.
Anyway, he writes,
Knuckles and “Respect.” Now I know where that came from. We used to do it all the time in the clubs in L.A. I didn’t think much of it. But now that I am, I remember it was one of my buds, a dude from the South Bronx, of Jamaican heritage, who started it.
For what it’s worth, it’s crazy effective. Calms people down without causing them to lose face. It’s especially helpful with transients and thug-types. In the clubs, violence starts — usually — because of a threat or an offense (real or perceived). In the pregnant, hair-trigger moment before, I found knuckles and “Respect” to be the best way to solve and soothe.
As with any verbal judo technique, its effectiveness depends on the target. Probably wouldn’t go so well at an Upper East Side dinner party. But you should totally give it a shot, especially if we win the midterms:
Them: “Can’t believe the racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, Nazi GOP now controls BOTH houses of Congress!”
You (presenting knuckles): “Yo, dog, don’t get it twisted. We all still family. You gonna make it. Respec’.”
Hmmm. Will think about it. By the way, the first time I saw the fist bump, it was on the PGA Tour. I was not actually playing the Tour, I should clarify; I was merely watching television. (Oh, the shame.)
One more thing: I know a great writer who sometimes signs himself “Respec.” Really.