What Part Of Your Elbow Should I Touch With My Elbow When We Meet?


The elbow bump. COVID’s answer to the disgustingly-intimate fist bump. I saw a fist bump go down the other day and yelled “get a room!” and they yelled back “we’re homeless!” so I ducked into a Juice Generation. Fist bumps are the dirty needle of the Coronavirus era. Lord help the man whose knuckle points fit perfectly into the knuckle troughs of his fist-bump recipient. That trough skin is soft and wet—it’s the cleavage of the hand—and a ripe conductor of the virus. If you happen to hit it perfectly, you’ll have four points of contact, and you might as well drive to Florida and guzzle the sewage runoff from an assisted living facility because buddy, you’re getting it.

I’ve had at least 20 elbow bumps since the world stopped, and I feel no better prepared to handle them today than I did with the first. One thing is for sure: if someone signals that they want the elbow bump, the other person will say “oh we’re doing one of these?” That’s a fact, Jack. Maybe it’s mostly white dudes who can’t help but look stupid whenever it comes to any sort of handshake, but one of the two parties will say those words—”oh we’re doing one of these?”—as he awkwardly folds his wing in a desperate show of confusion. If you want to put someone outside their comfort zone, come at them with your arm up as though you’ve been in a sling for six months and it’s frozen. That’ll even the playing field.

I’m no expert on the elbow bump. But someone needs to start the dialogue. From my limited experience, here are three pointers for proper elbow etiquette:

1. How To Indicate You Want Elbows

Place your fist over your heart and bring your elbow forward. You can even waggle it a bit. Then say something disarming like “let’s do one of these,” so that he/she doesn’t have to say “oh we’re doing one of these?” It preemptively implies that you’re not that into elbows either, that you only wish you could shake his hand but the times dictate otherwise. The reality is, you’re an elbow expert. Because you read this blog.

2. Where The Elbows Should Touch

It’s highly unlikely that the pointiest part of your elbow will kiss the pointiest part of his/her elbow. We just don’t have that much control over our elbows yet, and there’s so little surface area on the elbow point. Consequently, I would suggest aiming for a broader target. Try to line your forearm up in parallel with your bumper’s forearm. If you miss, you’re still going to get some decent contact.

3. How Hard To Bump

Dana White will tell you that the elbow can shatter an orbital bone a lot quicker than a fist. Therefore, lay off, guy. No need to come in with any sort of momentum or grudge. I never cared for people who wound up for high-fives like a six-year-old, and I certainly don’t care for fathers who grip your hand in a vice as you pick up their daughter for a movie date, growling “have her home by 10” and reminding you of their military service. A tap of the elbow/forearm area is totally fine. We’re trying to limit contact these days, after all.

That’s it. Follow those pointers and you’ll be bopping ‘bows like a Jon Bones Jones tonight. Happy hunting!