Been Left Hanging

How to recognize when you've been dissed, and how to play it off

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: March 20, 2004

Been Left Hanging

Have you ever had the experience when someone very interesting or attractive is smiling and waving at you, and it is clear that you don?t know them but would like to? You look around in disbelief as they get closer.

You have a spilt second to decide, yes, I?m going with it, or no, I?m going to shy away, quite possibly offending someone who looks incredibly enough, excited to see you.

Going for it, you gather your courage, smile your best smile, and say "Hi," and or extend your hand to shake or open your arms to hug, and a second later you realize that they know the guy or gal behind you?

Don?t you hate it when you extend your hand to shake and the person is unaware that you are doing so, or is blatantly rude ignoring your outstretched hand? There should be a time limit for you standing there like a maiter'd, hoping to get your flesh pressed.

During this scenario, you have to decide when is it appropriate to pull the hand back in, or, has it been out there too long so people have noticed and they are waiting to see if you get dissed?

The best move there is to pretend like you are checking your nails. An older, more time-tested technique is to quickly pull your hand back pretending to smooth back your hair.

This technique can be a socially offensive weapon, when political zealots and younger brothers stick out their hand for you to shake only to pull it back at the last second, smoothing back their hair leaving you humiliated at solemn family gatherings. After many year of falling for that ploy, I?ve countered with a preemptive hug, and whispered threat.

The phantom handshake is especially humiliating when you have your arm shoulder high, thumb pointed towards you hoping to do a really cool BET elaborate soul shake, when the diss? goes down, you can then rub the tip of your nose with your knuckles. I think it happens to American Idol judge Randy Jackson alot.

The process of being caught saying "Hi" to the wrong person, or trying to shake hands with someone who won?t cooperate, is called being ?left hanging.?

The antidote for being left hanging is to ?play if off.?

Have you ever been in an important business meeting, and in the midst of the meeting completely forget the name of the person you are doing business with and begin running out of surrogate names for the person who you are trying to cajole, like my esteemed client here, or my colleague, or this distinguished lady or gentleman.

In my case, ?Your Honor? usually fills the bill.

It is harder to play it off in the Boardroom, because you cannot retreat to folksy colloquial names like, My Boy, my Road Dog, Mi Carnal, or My Girl, or Mi Amor. Don?t ever slip into a My Brother or My Sister tone unless you?re doing church business and if you are, it is highly unlikely that you are reading this in the first place.

Needless to say I?ve blown it in most major social situations.

Things get exponentially more complicated when you have to meet some celebrity, or a high powered executive that can make or break an important project.

People who are somebody or at least think they are somebody makes themselves unapproachable by a certain body language, and oftentimes restraining orders. I guess they don?t want kooks hounding them or writing columns about their idiosyncrasies.

Some stars won?t shake your hand or acknowledge your presence, unless you are properly introduced and they have time to read your resume so they can gauge your usefulness to them.

Others shake languidly looking the other way. Some music people seem to leave people hanging on purpose as a power trip, like they are too hip for the room.

The worse offenders are local TV folks or even less attractive radio people. You need to remember that some entertainers have a face for radio.

I found that by being left hanging having, I have to play it off is worth it. It is important in these cold technocratic days to take the risk in making some new friends, because in the end the quality of your life is gauged by the relationships you cherish.

About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos is a national columnist and a screenwriter.

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