We gave the world jazz, and did anybody thank us?
OK, maybe the French.
We gave the world alligator wrestling, and did anybody thank us?
OK, maybe the Australians.
Poker, Rock ‘n Roll, the Sazerac, Lucky Dogs and Richard Simmons. Did anybody thank us? No. But now they will. Now that we are saving humanity itself. Saving humanity from itself. From the coronavirus.
I’m talking about, of course, the crawfish shake. The elbow dap. The Boil Bro-Bump. The Mud Bug Bop. This is New Orleans’ most significant contribution to social culture since the twerk.
But this time lives could be saved. Civilizations rebound. The stock market goes up. Because the crawfish shake is no mere dance move. No Youtube thrill or flash in the frying pan. It’s actually the future of interpersonal communication, corporate mingling and geopolitical savior faire.
And maybe that’s not what you call it – the “crawfish shake” – or some other variation on the term. I’m sure the name varies as much in New Orleans neighborhoods as much as the actual ingredients of a crawfish boil.
Mushrooms or no? Grapefruit or no? Asparagus or no? Garlic or no? (Just kidding about that last one. Of course it’s yes.)
Anyway and point being: It’s a global trend now. From professional sports gatherings to international diplomacy, superstars and heads of state are greeting each other now the way we have always done around our picnic benches and folding tables, in our back yards and garages, our hands full of crustacean effluence, in that “hey, how ya doin’” kind of way.
The guy standing next to you at the table, wrist deep in mustard and guts, introduces himself. You know the drill. You sure as hell don’t shake hands at a moment like this, even though the occasion is likely quite intimate. But you are all burying your finger-licked hands into a mound of communal grace, just trying to be polite.
Elbow out, elbow up, elbow knock. Good to meetchya.
“Elbow Bumps Are the New Handshake,” a headline from ABC news exclaimed over the weekend, noting that Vice President Mike Pence elbow bumped Washington Governor Jay Inslee when visiting his state last week.
And since Washington has the highest number of reported coronavirus cases in the U.S., that seems very frugal from a health-consciousness point of view. And since Pence is the official coronavirus czar, such is now the official coronavirus dap.
According to ABC, it is a “tactic to say hello without making too much contact.” Isn’t that adorbs. It’s like they’ve never been to Chalmette.
What was once a social initiation is now a process of safety, a way to stay alive rather than get your hands all mussed up with someone else’s mustard. What was once neighborly intimacy is now oddly more clinical and hermetic than the ICU units of America’s most prestigious hospitals.
The Crawfish Shake. Enjoy the party. But save your life.
Not through quarantines and vaccines and gloves and masks. But through crawfish boils. ‘Tis the season, after all. And the protocol. Boil everything. Don’t touch your face. (Who the hell touches their face during a crawfish boil?)
So be safe out there, friends, family and neighbors. And think back to another time. A time when something happened, something fast, tragic and unexpected. And state government failed us. The federal government failed us. The corporate world and the industrial military complex failed us.
But we rebuilt a bright, beautiful shining city on a hill – without a hill of course, because there are no hills around here – through the kindness of strangers. And faith. And the enduring dap of the crawfish shake.