WINNIPEG — Martin Melnyk reportedly spent Saturday at The Forks, a popular local mall, introducing himself to people emerging from the washrooms, hoping to find someone willing to shake his hand. He’s one of a growing number of damp-hand fetishists, also known as “Dampies,” “Moistists,” or “Clammymen.”
“People can be reluctant to shake your hand when they’ve just emerged from the restroom with hands inadequately dried by hot-air blowers. But when it happens…” Melnyk began to say, eyes rolling backward in ecstasy.
“Hot-air blowers are the best invention ever,” Melnyk continued. “They take just slightly too long to dry your hands. I mean, really, how long can you stand there with your hands held out like a Dickensian urchin before you say ‘fuck it’ and leave with damp hands. Those delectable, slightly wet hands.”
Melnyk connects with other Dampies via the subreddit /r/gimmethosedankhands. “Once a year we rent a Best Western conference room in Waterloo to share techniques and reminisce about what it was like before the Internet. Back then, the best you could do was go to a rib joint and keep your eyes peeled for when someone used the moist towelette, and then get in there for a handshake, pretending you’re an old friend.”
“The beauty is most people are so self-conscious about the possibility of having forgotten someone, they’ll go along with it if you seem confident you know them,” Melnyk said. “Particularly Winnipeggers. Why else do you think I moved here? That Manitoba friendliness gives me all the deliciously muggy hands I need to stay happy.”
At press time, Melnyk was mid-shake with another potential hand-idate only to be horrified to find a dry, unwashed hand.