Monday, February 2, 2009

Dap me gently.

Dap. Gangsta love. Tater. "Terrorist fist jab" if you're Fox news, referring to Michelle and Barack's knuckle bump after he landed the Democratic party nod. 

Tom and I do it sometimes. Not incessantly; that would be the trappings for, like, a Seinfeld episode.  Super annoying. It's only when things go especially well for us. Not, "I got a giant bag of plums for half price because the market was closing." (Reminding me that we need to have some neighbors in some plums.) No, more like the last night of our Caribbean vacation. We put all our winnings on #30 on the way out the door. The wheel spins, the ball drops. 30....(quiet, grateful, happy dap, cash out, go home). (That last part is key, by the way). 

Digging deep, I guess dapping actually is one step shy of explicit gloating.  If you want your dap to be discrete and intimate, you have to make it so. There's another way to do it that's tantamount to double-leaping-round-the-world-high five. And it's really hard for anyone to lay low delivering a dap on network tv when you're running for leader of the free world, for sure.  

Now and then, I notice someone else noticing us dap.  It's not like how they might notice people passing the salt, or shaking hands, or making out in the last row of the train. I mean their expression, when they see it happen, it's notable...poignant.  

It seems like the Broadway musical "Avenue Q" recently got people waxing philosophical about "schadenfreude", or "taking pleasure in other people's pain". Prat falls, reality show tabloids....hey, we're a competitive animal. 

There's this other thing though, maybe our evolving past the primitive fight instinct, it's like an autonomic response to the good fortune of complete strangers.  It's as though people forget their own loneliness, gambling loss, demoralizing job - their own palpable pain, for a brief reprieve while they witness two other people ceremoniously marking a moment.  Like the happy touches them too.

I've tried to start dapping strangers.  Kids are usually up for it. My hands sweat a lot, so connecting on a closed fist level? Perfect.  There are a lot of people out there who haven't been dapped for a long time, many, ever.  Just that innocuous bit of flesh to flesh contact might nourish someone's soul without us realizing that they were even starving.  

I've always thought that Tom and I were equal partners in the dap. That we both initiate dapping about equally, though, my being somewhat prone to hyperbole, it's probably more like 60%/40%. Would be interesting to hear Tom's numbers (cough***90%/10%,***cough).  But I love that appreciates a well-timed, situation-appropriate dap with me. It makes me feel the opposite of alone in the world, a good feeling when you're down, but even better when you're up. 

So last week, some great windfall was bestowed upon us (I think it had to do with adopting a very beat up but entirely free mountain bike), so I go in for the dap.  And Tom's face looks, well, not good. Concerned.  Like not-dap-happy. 

Him:  "Where's your ring?"
Me:  "My ring? What ring?" 
Him:  "Your wedding ring?"
Me:  "Here? It's right here, Hon." 

I hold up my left hand. Confused.  I usually don't wear rings, just my wedding ring on my left hand. Tom's mom gave us her beautiful classy-but-not-trashy-sized solitaire stone and we designed a cathedral style setting for it.  I liked that the stone is somewhat raised to store cake in the protective basket. It true. There is usually some kind of dessert item ground into my wedding ring.  Yummy.

Him: "Oh."
Me:  "Huh?"
Him: "Oh. Well. It's just that whenever you dap me, it always hurts a LOT. I'm terrified of dapping you. Your wedding ring kind of works like a jousting lance that chunks skin out of my knuckles. But you used your other hand and that was like the first time you dapped me that it didn't draw blood."
Me: "Oh."

Another humbling marriage eye opener. Intent/result, perception/reality, pain/joy ...  they can get a little rolled together . Instead dapping back, this time I got some help unfurling them all.  I liked that too. 

Go ahead, decide if you're a dapper. I think it would be cool if more people were, so long as they dap for the right reasons. 

I am, and, going forward, a gentler dapper at that.


1 comment:

  1. Ouchie! Reality hurts. But learning from experience? Priceless.

    I always felt too much like a giant clumsy nerdy white chick to dap people. So I'm always disproportionately grateful when someone daps me — like a nod and a wink, part of the joke, part of the hip crew.

    I recognize that my self-image is not reflected in the eyes of most others, but it's been a difficult boondoggle to outgrow. Odd to suffer such growing pains this late in life. Never too late to grow up, I guess. Would be nice to complete the process — if it can ever be completed — before I die.