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September 26, 2008 - Betsy Bethel
I ran into a winker last week, and it reminded me how much I detest "the wink." The winker was an attractive woman, in her 40s, who came up to greet my father and me following a civic function. She must have winked at my dad three times during the three-minute conversation.

I said to my dad afterward, "Hey, she was winking at you! Eeew. How inappropriate!" or something to that effect. He chuckled and put on a false bravado, pretending to be flattered.

Can someone please tell me why people wink?

I mean, growing up in this culture, here's what I believe a wink means: 1) the person is lying, 2) the person is wordlessly flirting with or flattering you, or 3) they are telling/playing a joke and are "secretly" letting you in on it.

Except the lying, these motives can be innocent enough. So why do I get such an icky feeling when someone winks?

Both my uncles used to wink at me and it always made me feel uncomfortable, like they were letting me in on a joke, but I had no clue what the joke was ... and I always suspected the joke was on me. My uncles are both upstanding, well-respected men and I know they meant to harm, but those winks always left me with a bad taste.

If you're a winker, it's possible you have no idea the effect your eye twitch has on others. (I highly doubt it, but giving you the benefit of the doubt here ...) Allow me to clue you in.

Following are several words I think of when I think of a winker: Icky. Smarmy. Lecherous. Not to be trusted. Arrogant. Obnoxious. Ingratiating. Sycophantic. Pompous. I could go on, but you get the picture.

All I can say is thank goodness winking is not as rampant as it used to be. Although, apparently there is a wink emoticon that is very popular on online dating and other social sites. Yech.

Oh, and you can imagine how I feel about people winking at my daughter. Try it, and you might find a fist in your winker.

I think I've gone several years since anyone's winked in my general direction. Hmmm, wait a minute, maybe that just means I'm old and/or unattractive ... Eh, I'll take it.


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