Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wink, Wink, Say No More.

Hi, and welcome to the Questionable Social Interactions Forum (QuSIF). Please take your seats. I'll start: my name is Amy, and I wink at strangers. Or at inappropriate times.
I now know that it is a problem. It all started years ago. I found myself winking at friends when we were sharing a joke. It just felt good. And then before I knew it, I was winking throughout the day. At work, out to dinner, even in church. I found that most social situations could benefit from a wink--or so I thought. I'm an active listener, you see. And in my wink-addled brain, a wink conveyed interest, shared humor, empathy, amusement.

Some time later, I found myself walking down a sidewalk one day. Isn't that how all these stories begin? I passed by a man walking the opposite direction. In the South, where I was raised, it's customary to flash a brief, perfunctory smile to someone you pass by and make eye contact with. I swear, that's all I meant to do. But after he'd passed me, I realized I'd winked at him. And smiled! I was shocked and embarrassed. How long have I been winking at men I don't even know, I wondered. The Lord only knows.

I began aggressively curtailing my winking habit. Eye patches helped. Shock therapy. I tell you, it hasn't been easy. And lately, since living in Sydney I find I've been doing it again. The problem is, Sydney is a very multi-cultural city. Winking can convey lots of different meanings, I think, to different cultures. And so, depending on who I'm accidentally winking at, I fear that I've obligated myself to do one or more of the following:
  • Marry someone's son
  • Sell a goat for a fair price
  • Cheat at a card game
  • Hire a hit man
  • Buy someone's groceries
I am working on my winking tendencies. What do you think some acceptable substitutions are? Thumbs-up? Slow nodding? Forehead slapping? I just don't know.

What about you? I mean, you're here at the QuSIF meeting, after all. Anything you need to confess?


  1. By way of explaining your eccentric behavior, you do have a maternal uncle who has been known to drop is trousers at family gatherings as a way of asking, "Is every one having a good time? Can I get you a beverage or some canapes?"

    I don't want to mention his name because I wouldn't want to embarrass your Uncle John, but you know who mean.

  2. And just when I thought I'd successfully expunged those memories...nope, they're back!

    Good point though, Dad. Clearly, I'll have to give this some thought. Because maybe the condition worsens with age?

  3. You may advance to his level, but you may take some comfort from the certainty that your display of the family infirmity will be greeted with a much higher level of approval...and less hysterical blindness.

  4. If you lived further south, say in Tasmania, it wouldn't be out of place to give the thumbs up. Everyone seemed to be doing it when we were last there.

    PS your papa is hilarious

  5. You ARE a good listener.
    Also, you prob made that guy's day (the one passing on sidewalk). It would make me feel happy.

  6. Amy, I laughed out loud as I read about you smiling and winking at a stranger on the sidewalk. Have you ever hear the very old song "Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella?" I guess it sorta applies. Except maybe the wink... I was thinking of the way we do things in the South. I thought of shoulder or forearm touching as one talks to a person. Have you ever done that? Yeah, it's a thing down here. I think you exude friendliness. Go girl!

  7. Wink away! A wink and a nod always makes me feel extra special...unless it's coming from a creepy man, married man, the man at the deli meat counter, the bus driver at Cal's school....wait, Amy, I could see how excessive winking could get one in trouble.

    Sadly, I am an excessive arm toucher. I just feel it shows that I'm really listening to the other person. It's probably just conveying that I might want to kiss them. So, no more arm touching for me.

  8. I laughed so hard through this entire post!

    And speakin' of laughing, my QuSI is that I laugh way too loud and kind of all the time, often at stuff that isn't funny but just strikes me as odd. Which can make for some awkward social situations.

    This post, though... this post IS really funny. =)

  9. You do have a problem. You may need a 12 step program. In an effort to teach my son to wave to people I've been waving to strangers on the street, or I should say their kids. Thanks for commenting on my post about moving to Australia. I've been several times and it's fantastic. It's just the distance. If we could just find a way to beam us there and back when we want. I'll definitely need those coping strategies!

  10. Oh my gosh, I do the arm touching too! And sometimes knees!! One friend in particular always laughs at me when I do it to her. Clearly, I have issues.

  11. Thanks Camp Papa for reviving those images of Uncle John that I had happily buried from my early childhood! Although, I was never offered any canapes... Calling my therapist now.

    Amy, I touch knees while conversing and have even been known to wink at strangers while smiling. Rest assured that you are not alone!

  12. Don't go for the 12 step program... haven't you heard it's a sham? You can just DECIDE not to do something. And then you're WINNING.

    OMG, I laughed so hard at your speculation about what'd you'd just agreed to. I hope you don't undersell your goat, though.

  13. Ya know, I had a winking problem too not long ago. The youth made fun of me. Somewhow I haven't been winking much anymore, but I pat kids on the back alot...I'm not sure if that's awkward or not. I always thought it was encouraging.

  14. I'm a winker too! My friend Greg and I discussed winking several years ago, and how being winked at makes most people feel good, so stranger winking is kind of a public service.

    I'm an inappropriate laugher. Like during funerals or wedding ceremonies and serious discussions. When my cousin got married a few years ago, they had a relative of his wife sing a song she had composed just for them and it was just so lame and ridiculous and her voice was awful I couldn't keep it together. I had to bury my head in my husband's arm.