And my friends (and coworkers) send me winking emails, texts, and instant messages back. But in real life, my age mates exclusively wink if they are flirting or making some sort of sexual advance. Even when flirting, live winks are still a dying art form.
So you can understand that when I was at a new site, and my 64 year old client winked at me when he announced that I was on the teleconference line, I was totally thrown off of my game. Little did I know that that wink was only one of an avalanche of winks that would define my time there.
The security guard winked at me when I had to take off my shoes for the metal detector, strangers winked at me after saying "Hello" as we passed each other in the hallway, co-workers winked at me when they teased me, and even bartenders after work winked at me when I sat down. One time two men I didn't know were walking in front of me poking fun at each other. After making a particularly sarcastic comment, one of them turned around to me and gave me a big wink. I didn't even know he knew I was there. I actually stopped walking for a split second because it knocked me so much off-kilter.
|I really didn't know what to do about it.|
In fact, while I was in this town, I was winked at over five times a day. It was as if I'd stumbled across one of those Amazonian tribes who are so out of contact with the rest of the world that they have their own distinct culture where winking is still a thing. After having spent years in a wink-less world, this left me kind of stunned. Only men were winking at me, and the first few winks made me wonder if this behavior was some kind of very confusing and misplaced flirting from men older than my father. But I quickly realized that in this microcosm, men dole out winks for all sorts of non-flirting reasons- like just acknowledging that they see you.
The frequency of the winking still left me reaching for how I was expected to react. I mean, what am I supposed to do after a wink? Wink back? The last time I live winked at somebody was probably as a child, when my parents goaded me into an exaggerated wink for their entertainment. My winking muscles had atrophied from years of disuse, and any attempt at returning a wink looks more like a painful face spasm than anything else.
Or maybe I was just supposed to smile? Or laugh? Or look very serious? Or maybe I was supposed to catch the wink like a kiss that's been blown to you and put it in my pocket? Whatever I was supposed to do I just ended up standing there mouth agape as I searched for the appropriate reaction, and I'm quite certain that was not it.
I've settled now on the fact that I can just give a warm smile back to show that I have received a wink. But, I'm sure I'll forget that ten years from now, or whenever the next time it is that I stumble upon a high density winking area like that.
PS. When was the last time somebody winked at you?