What makes a high five excellent? What percentage of the human soul is lost in the abortion of a high five? How many high fives does it take to cause preternatural swelling and bruising of the hand? Who are you, and what are you doing here? These are the kind of existential questions raised on the third Thursday of every April, when lovers of loving love everywhere promote unity through the infallible symbol of two hands clapping.
Yes yes, y’all: April 19th was National High Five Day, and Ice Cream Man was ready to celebrate in Long Beach, CA. As the crew’s only seasoned NH5D organizer, I led the charge into Cal State Long Beach for an afternoon of high fives more intense than the sugar high from consuming fifteen fudge bars in a row. With high five guru and partner in crime Darryl Stein on my side, Ice Cream Man’s campus connections clearing the path, and Gooch at the helm of the lovely Bessita, we fulfilled on the promise of the open palm and our mission of giving away frozen treats.
Our approach was simple: stand at the center of campus with a big sign and a ghetto blaster for five hours, high fiving as many people as humanly possible and giving away free ice cream for anyone who wanted to take five from giving five. As in past years, Darryl and I were met with a healthy dose of disbelief when we declared the student union a High Five Zone and turned the dial to ten on “It’s Five!” by Architecture in Helsinki. Having worked Bessie on the streets of Austin, however, I was no stranger to the confused yet excited looks of passersby realizing in a split second that the best things in life are indeed free. Within minutes, the good people of The Beach recognized that our mission was one of the awesome variety and began to reciprocate with some of the most painfully powerful high fives I’ve received in all my days.
Wynn Walent, one of the founders of NH5D, has asserted that in a perfect world, “it would be considered bad form not to exchange a high five with someone who offers you one” on this still young holiday. Indeed this was the motif of our campaign in Long Beach. While we started the day off with explanations and announcements, by the time Bessita pulled up to the building all that was required to get the message across was a smile, a nod and an open palm. For every student who left us hanging, twenty others were willing to pick up the slack. Even those with their hands full and a cell phone conversation in full swing found the time for a high five (or an elbow pound) when passing through zone. A few fine denizens of The Beach even took time out of their day to join the campaign, proving that free high fives aren’t just for geeky dudes in orange t-shirts. Ice Cream Man, out on his first NH5D campaign, ended up giving more high fives in two hours than he had in his entire life!
While this year’s campaign wasn’t as epic as the 10-hour high five war I launched at UC Berkeley for NH5D2K6 or as thrilling as the first NH5D celebration I organized in 2005, it was every bit as satisfying and twice as sweet. Thanks to the support of students at The Beach (especially Brian Dunning, John Trapper and all the folks at The Union Weekly who cleared us as high five contractors) and the ice cold delivery of Ice Cream Man and Gooch, we were able to make this the most delicious NH5D celebration to date. Long Beach, you were an amazing digital dance partner, and I swear to you I’ll never wash this hand again.
Matthias was also out in Ventura handing out high fives, check out his pics below