Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What's in a wink?

It's an interesting question. What's really in a wink? Love? Lust? Humor? Or just something stuck in your eye?

I don't know why, but I've recently started to use the wink a bit more. Seems a bit of a lost "art." No, not the actual ability to wink, just the actual use of it in social situations. Or maybe it's the people I hang out with, I don't know. I just know that as a kid it seemed like people did it more often than they do now.

Is there some social taboo to it? Can something like a wink be "in" for some time period and then become "out" just the same? I don't recall participating in or overhearing any conversations where anyone talked about the wink as if it were an old style of blue jeans that was no longer in style, but perhaps the wink is like that.

But the question becomes what can one really do with a wink? In my experience, it can be a good way to let someone in on a piece of humor. Particularly tall tales or simple sarcasm. It's worth noting that humor can go over much better in a crowd if just one person gets the joke (or, more importantly, that you're even telling a joke and not attempting badly to be serious). Let that right person in on it with a quick wink, and they pass an infectious laugh around.

Another option is the ability to make someone feel special with a wink. In the above situation, you might do both by winking at the insecure person in the group. Or a younger member. Or an older one. There are also situations where you could just be letting someone in on the fact that you just made a backhanded comment about someone else (but we're not the type to do that, are we?).

I should also mention that a wink can be a good way to let someone else know that you've noticed them. It could be a great way to seize the moment and turn what might have been awkward eye contact into a suggestion that perhaps a conversation might be in order if the other party is willing. People are generally shy by nature, but often it only takes a small signal to get someone else out of their shell. And why not try it? It's certainly easier than striking up the conversation yourself, and definitely easier to write off if the other party doesn't take the bait. I mean none of us like verbal rejection, but failing to respond to your wink is a lot less damaging than "you'll have to excuse me, but I just don't find your lame attempt at a pick-up line very intriguing." I'm sure nobody has ever gotten that exact response, but many have probably gotten that exact vibe after a failed pickup attempt!

Okay, I'm just exploring this "meeting people" thing. I'm happily married and intend to stay that way for a long time. And this is where I should bring up the fact that I can't wink around the house. Why? Because my wife thinks it is funny that she can wink with either eye and I can only wink with one. And she's mean about it and likes to gloat. Okay, that's not true. But she does give me some much-deserved ribbing about it.

So what wink stories do you guys have? Any thoughts on whether the gesture should be used more or less? I can't see what it can hurt to use it more. Sure, it could be very easily overdone, but I'm going to encourage folks to use it in moderation. Why the heck not?


Em said...

my opinion is that everyone is so cautious and careful nowadays more than in the old days and that's why the wink has faded. people used to be more jovial and friendly with one another, even strangers, but now it's like people walk down the street with their heads down, their ipods in, or their phones to their ears and don't even notice others passing by, let alone acknowledge them with a greeting.

Donnie Barnes said...

And I thought I was cynical! ;-)

There's probably something to that when it comes to strangers, sure. But what about in crowds where you know everyone? Still seems to have faded there, too. *shrug*