UI freshman relishes creative handshakes


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University of Iowa freshman Stefan Juran uses a new take on an old trick to make introductions a little more interesting.

It's a common occurrence. One person goes in for a normal handshake or high-five, but the other pulls her or his hand back and slides it through her or his hair. The first person is "left hanging."

Today, that old prank has evolved, and Juran has perfected an arsenal of new and improved "gotcha" handshakes to make sure he catches people by surprise.

Juran said that when he was in high school, he was a member of both the speech team and band, so he would meet new people all the time. These goofy handshakes were a way to break the ice and make people laugh during a first introduction.

"I think it all started because Clint [Francois] came up to me and showed me one," Juran said. "I thought it was the stupidest thing ever. But we kept learning more; we picked up more when we went to different places. People would teach us a new one, and then we'd teach them one of ours."

Juran and Francois said they could name at least 10 handshakes off the top of their heads: snail, squirrel, stick shift, jellyfish, snowman, yo-yo, rocket ship, turkey, hot dog, octopus, hand hug, and dead fish.

The dead fish is one of Stefan's favorites. As one person goes to grab his hand, he quickly presses his thumb down between his middle and ring finger just before contact, forcing the other person to awkwardly grab his entire hand.

Stefan's friend Cody Mefferd remembered the first time he was "dead fished."

"The first time was at a speech contest, and in front of a whole bunch of people, he dead fished me … it was so embarrassing for both me and him," Mefferd said.

Juran admits that the practice is very goofy, but he finds that most people enjoy the lightheartedness of his handshake skills.

"There's a time and a place for a handshake but I usually don't follow those rules," Juran said. "We do it to drunk people when we're walking home on the weekends, and they think they are the coolest things ever. I've done it to someone at church before."

Stefan also once helped a girl from his high school with her senior art project. She used drawings of his different handshakes to create a collage.

While most people find the handshakes entertaining, Juran admits they are met with a mixed response at home.

"My mom thinks they're stupid. She's always like, 'You have nothing better to be doing with your time?' But my dad, he's even more goofy then I am. He thinks they're the funniest thing ever," Stefan said. "He loves them — he'll go up to my friends and do them all wrong; it's so annoying."

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