Toby Harris: The wink

Suave or sleazy?

Some men can wink and it is intriguing, mysterious, and alluring, whilst others are immediately threatened with a restraining order. Unfortunately, I lean towards the latter, but I hasten to plead my innocence. Any potential threats have never materialized to legal charges being pressed.

What should the wink be? Quick, impromptu, discrete, subtle, cool, sudden with a hint of intrigue…enough of a gesture to want more. The success of the move is very much dependent on the person doing the wink, the backdrop of the act, and the preferences of the wink-receiver.

There is a fine line between ‘the wink’ and a nervous twitch. Some people can wink with one eye with ease and they then fall into a fatal trap- using the other eye. NO! You might be able to wink with the left but that is not a prerequisite to being able to wink with the right.

Never forget that for every winker, there is a winkee. The extent to which the receiver is receptive of the gesture will determine the relative success, failure, or possible criminality of the exploit.

Often, after a few alcoholic beverages, the subject is placed in the safe sanctuary of inebriation, offering unfounded social confidence. Any former social inhibitions may have departed, offering the opportunity to utilize this bold, potential conversation catalyst.

Allow me to examine the nature of “the wink”. It is a rather seductive, suggestive and courting maneuver, offering an insight to potential interest -usually of a sexual nature. Intriguingly, such a niche expression can be encompassed in a sudden, momentary closure of one eye.

The wink epitomizes the “grey area” of social decorum. The gesture commonly features in the world of Hollywood. Picture a young professional man, with a loosened tie after a stressful day at the office that goes to the local bar for a whisky on the rocks. Inevitably, two attractive females are conveniently placed at the table next to him. When he places his order, he looks across, gives a little grin and employs the wink. The two young females giggle and fall head over heels for both the wink and the man at once. I wait with baited breath to see this course of events take place in reality.

The idealised, movie-made scenario is what I will call, ‘The Gentlemanly Wink’. However, the gesticulation is not exclusive to this tasteful scenario. More commonly it will feature in a local pub when the resident top darts player will order another round of beers for himself and the lads and say to the bar-lady, “Cheers, Love, keep the change.” This statement will more than likely be followed by the wink. What makes matters worse is that his order will cost £4.99 and he will have paid with a £5 note.

As soon as an individual opts to employ the wink they are at risk of either looking as if they are visually impaired or socially challenged. Nevertheless, it is rather common. Films depict the wink as a classic, “go-to move” in an effort to spark a flirtatious conversation at the bar. I challenge the notion that the wink is a useful tool to begin any form of social interaction.

Is the wink something we keep, or blink away? If it’s a keeper, should it be a gonner? And if it’s a gonner, should it be a keeper?