"Picking up the phone is great, but I've got a friend who literally will walk through rain and the snow just to give me a high five."

By Meghan Overdeep
February 05, 2021
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Credit: Andy Gullahorn

It's happened once a week for the better part of a decade.

Andy Gullahorn leaves his house for a walk through his Nashville neighborhood. At the same time, about a mile and a half away, his best friend Gabe Scott does the same thing.

In even the most inclement weather the men walk towards each other. When they finally meet, neither acknowledges the other. Then, after a clap, a snap, a high five, and zero words exchanged, they simply turn around and go home. Oh, and there is no smiling allowed.

"It would be a weird thing to witness, so we saw it as a gift for anybody who happened to be driving by," Gullahorn told The Atlantic.

And what a gift it is.

Gullahorn, 44, and Scott, 45, are both musicians. They met at a concert in 2000 and created this whacky ritual seven years ago to make sure they saw each other at least once a week. It's their way of saying hi. Scott's daughter knows Gullahorn as "Uncle Five."

"Picking up the phone is great, but I've got a friend who literally will walk through rain and the snow just to give me a high five," Gullahorn told CBS News. "And I wish everybody could feel that feeling."

Scott explained to The Atlantic how they schedule the high fives with emoji signals.  "One person sends the high-five emoji; then the other person responds with the hand. Then you respond with a walking emoji, and the other person does the walking emoji," he said. "That's the only communication."

Credit: Andy Gullahorn

Gullahorn keeps a log of every silent encounter in his high-five journal. For a little while, when Scott was hospitalized with a severe form of encephalitis in September, it looked like entry No. 312 might be the last.  

The infection caused Scott's brain to swell and erased much of his memory.

The first week he was in the hospital Gullahorn went out on a limb. He asked Scott for a high five.

"I started walking toward him, and then right before the high five, he did the clap, and the snap, and I just started crying," Gullahorn recalled to The Atlantic.

For Scott, the silly ritual came as second nature.

"That's one of the things I love about the routine of it," he said. "Not just the mechanics of it, but the friendship part of it is so burned into my body memory that that's what came out."

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Today, Scott's recovery is ongoing. Though he is doing much better, he is still fighting hard for his memories—trying to make new ones and be okay with that.

The high five ritual, though altered, continues. "There's something I love about the idea of telling my grandkids, 'I've been giving Gabe a high five since 2014,'" Gullahorn said. "There are a lot of people who would like to say, 'I've been having lunch with my buddy every week for 60 years,' but it's a lot harder to actually do it."