I prefer ‘gimme five’ to ‘high five’. Alhough I realize the former is very much out of fashion, it feels sincere to me. ‘High five’, on the other hand, always carries a ring of mockery bordering on bullying. There must have been a period during my youth – I’m guessing fifth or sixth grade, though no specific instance comes to mind – when I expressed joy about something considered nerdy, which was as out of fashion then as ‘gimme five’ is today. I vaguely recall a peer holding up his hand and saying with false enthusiasm, “High five!” Not getting that my love of Doctor Who or Epic graphic novels or Ultima IV or whatnot was the butt of the joke, I met the initiating palm with mine. Sometimes I probably punctuated the gesture with a, “Yeah!” At that moment, derisive laughter would ripple through the rest of the bodies present, leaving me bewildered. “You all do or you don’t love Dungeons & Dragons? Wait, where are you going?”
Today I proudly embrace my adolescent fondness for science fiction and comic books. Besides, the rise of comic-based movies into the mainstream, the popularity of serials like Firefly, even the Harry Potter craze have vindicated my youthful zeal for these fantasy-based entertainments, even if I don’t pay as much attention to them anymore. Still, when, in the course of every day interactions, someone raises up a hand – with regard to any topic – and demands, “high five,” I feel an instantaneous surge of disparagement and doubt about her/his intentions. Most of the time I recover quickly enough to get my hand up there, though my reciprocation is inevitably colored by skepticism. There is always a pause between the initiation of the celebration and my response, and occasionally, on particularly bad days, I just ‘leave ’em hanging’.
I’d like to get over this minor phobia. When presented with a genuinely excited ‘high five’, I’d like to respond with the same confidence that Maverick and Goose display in their very special ‘high five’, after scoring a volleyball spike on Iceman and Slider. But currently I think I’m muscling it a little too much. That is, when someone calls for a ‘high five’ these days, I sharpen my eyes and suck in my gut and say internally with as much conviction as a I muster, “High five, you son of a bitch!” Sometimes I may even say it out loud, I think. Silent or stated, the remark helps me power into that high five with no hesitation. Nevertheless, I’d be much more comfortable if we could just get back to the good old ‘gimme five’. Or ‘gimme ten’, even. Then we could give each other change, too.