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The Gentleman’s Guide to Touching Other Gentlemen

I was late for work last week, moving at a steady clip, when a smiley dude in a purple Phish shirt stepped in front of me and raised his hand. It was 8am on a Thursday and he was high-fiving strangers on the street. When I refused and continued on my way, he looked at his outstretched hand as though it had emotions of its own and said, “Happy National High-Five Day to you, too.”

Keep an eye out for a Kempt story in the coming days entitled “Enough Is Enough with Bullshit Holidays”—but today, we’re focusing on the high-five part of this story. Or, more specifically, on when it’s okay, kind of okay and definitely not okay for grown men to randomly touch other grown men.

THE HIGH-FIVE Green: Fathers and sons, golfers and caddies, fighter pilots, teammates, opposing softball players, NASA mission control workers. Yellow: Fans of the same team (once), campaign staffers on election night (under 35). Red: Strangers on the street, Internet friends, kittens.

THE AFFECTIONATE FACE SLAP Green: Mob bosses, mentors, grandfathers, tenured coaches. Yellow: Scout leaders, aging dock workers, off-duty Navy SEALs, catchers to pitchers after a no-hitter. Red: Agents, grown men to neighbors’ kids, office employees.

KISS ON THE CHEEK Green: Old friends, brothers, Europeans. Yellow: College professors, cops two days till retiring from the force. Red: Active servicemen, squash opponents, children, cab drivers.

BACK MASSAGE Green: Masseuses, physical therapists, chiropractors, men actively looking to have sex with other men. Yellow: N/A Red: Everyone else.