“Close-fisted high five”

Posted by Katherine | June 6, 2008 – 5:08 pm
Respect knuckles
[FLC / Flickr]

It must rank up there among over-scrutinized gestures: the Obamas’ fist bump / pound / dap / respect knuckles leading up to Barack’s victory speech on Tuesday night. Or, if you speak New York Times-ese, their “close-fisted high five” (this from a piece published a few days before Obama’s win). Or, really, whatever you want to call it.

But sticking with The New York Times for a second: Joe, a 23-year-old SportsNation assistant editor from Connecticut, was so baffled by the Times’s usage that he dreamed up the only possible explanation: an over-70 copy editor. Named Osgood.

He’s an institution at the paper. He is stubborn as the lid on a pickle jar. He does not understand anything after 1990 or so, when his mind started to go.

For some inexplicable reason, the Times sends every piece of technology or modern culture-related news his way to be edited.

I can see him now, in the fading half-light of his corner of the floor, peering over the story referencing that picture. He squints at the picture, then at the phrase “fist bump”, that the reporter used to describe it. Osgood can feel the world closing in on him. What is this new means of expression? He can’t fathom it.

Osgood snorts, and changes the phrase to “closed-fisted high five”.

If he can’t understand it, he’ll be goddamned if anyone else can.

Pamused from Canada didn’t get hung up on names; she just got “giddy” (hat tip to volunteer curator Roshan Abraham):

when it happened, […] i became a delirious schoolgirl. before obama even began speaking, my brain did a nanosecondic scan of the thousands of political speeches i have seen on tv or in person or on film or even in my wildest dreams… and none of them featured The Pound. seeing barack and michelle acknowledge one another that way took my breath away, literally. anyone unfamiliar with the gesture will probably miss the significance of it’s appearance at a globally-telecasted US presidential nominee’s speech. but i cannot overstate what it means, this first-ever Pound between a political couple at anytime, anywhere, EVER. and that, internet, is why i dig it all. that is why i’m aboard this here train. sure, there’s all that heady ‘Change We Can Believe In’ stuff - mostly to do with policy and washingtonism and politics as we know it, which i am for sure behind - but last night’s POUND is the kind of change people like me have thirsted for. holy shit, is it ever a new day! i can’t wait til those people get all up in that white house. i’m so giddy.

If you’re a word geek, Joe’s “stubborn as the lid on a pickle jar” might make you giddy, too.

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