Monday, May 24, 2010

The Two Waves of Cringe

Who, pray tell, is the knob-end who invented waving? I get that it has some practical purposes (children lost at disney world trying to attract frantic parents attention, dramatic goodbyes at airports when your loved one is slowly walking away, emotional departures when your kid is going to college for the first time and waves goodbye from an overstuffed Subaru)

BUT as far as I'm concerned, since I don't have children and am emotionally stunted, waving is just another social convention created for cringe. Since waving is generally a two-person game, there are therefore two main ways in which this seemingly harmless activity can make even the most saintly maiden blush:

1. The Over Enthusiastic Wave That Was Not Intended For You......

But you wave back anyway.

This is the wave you get when you are at lunch, or perhaps at a crowded venue, and you see someone way off yonder, approaching aggressively. You vaguely know this person, and they are on the cusp of people you can be arsed to say hi to/ people you avoid by quickly averting your glance to your phone. You're debating if you should say hi (if you have already seen them) or you are simply sipping your espresso and minding your own business, when said vaguely recognizable person (friend of a friend? person met while drunk on Saturday? person met while drunk on Sunday?) starts waving like an excitable buffoon. They are SO excited to see you.

Now you have noticed them, the countdown has begun. You are probably feeling a little bit smug and superior because you must have had such a big impact on this person that they clearly have such a burning desire to make contact with you again. Perhaps they have been waiting all week to bump into you, and they are just GUSHING with a week's worth of excitement at the mere PROSPECT of being near your divine, witty, intelligent, unparalleled charisma . Normally, you may have simply ignored the person, but that just seems too cruel. They are still waving with the same vigour. You really cannot ignore it anymore. Obviously, because you are so chic and controlled, you opt not to go for the same wind screen wiper hand motion that Batty Hand Waver McGee has gone for, so instead you opt for a more restrained, yet respectably enthusiastic hand wave.
The other person does not seem to notice at first, so you continue. Maybe your hand motions get a little bit more aggressive and insistent. When said batty hand-waver finally does notice, it is only to give you a look of bafflement followed by a brief look of recognition followed by a sidewards comment to their friend.

No, asshole, they were not waving at you. They were waving at their spouse/best friend/relative/bffffff sitting behind you. You are none of these. Obviously that wave was not intended for you. Get back to your salad and stop bloody waving. Fool.

2. The 'I'm Pretty Sure That's Them, And They'll Get Pissy If I Don't Wave' Wave
But no, it's not them.

It isn't your mother (since when has your mother been 73 and worn fanny packs?). It isn't your best friend (pretty sure she doesn't have acne or a nosehead). It isn't your sister ( she lives 5000 miles away, is only 12, and definitely should not be in New York at a nightclub at 2am).

But for a split second you are sure that it is your relative/friend/boyfriend/family friend and you know that absence of a wave would induce some kind of mildly narky comment via text/facebook chat/ your mother, so you decide to go for some form of hand movement to signal your awareness of their presence, and perhaps also indicate your elation of having so serendipitously bumped into them.

They turn around. Of course it's not them. You were a complete twat for thinking it was them in the first place. Time to start a) pretending you're waving at the person behind them, and continue the waving shenanigan b) stretching c) pretending you're trying to get cell phone service d) drop your hand immediately to your side and saunter off into the shadows.

I propose that, in order to avoid these awkward scenarios, we all adopt the Barack Obama point-and-smile with the John Travolta disco strut. Everyone gets love. Win-win situation.


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