The Wink

By L. R. Zimmerman

My sister is a winker. She winks with enthusiasm after rousing us with upcoming plans, followed by a head nod of approval. I’m not really sure how her winks make me feel, except I notice the non-verbal gesture and it inspired me to give winking a try for myself.

There are so many types of winks and winkers. With an expression as wide-ranging and ambiguous as a wink; once a wink is out there, it’s anyone’s guess as to how it will be perceived. This Seinfeld episode is a perfect example of how a wink can be misconstrued.

Even in the digital realm – especially in the digital realm – a wink can be misinterpreted. It’s superfluous. It’s intentional. It’s less natural, therefor harder to demystify. Not to mention, some people can’t wink. And when I think about that, it makes winking seem more like a super power.

Types of Winkers 

The Friendly Winker – This signal is a way of communicating thankfulness. A reinforced behavior even if the winker already expressed the same sentiment verbally.

The Flirtatious Winker – You’ll definitely notice this wink. It’s flattering. It’s deliberate. And might make you feel uncomfortably warm. I consider this wink to be appropriate unless the flirt becomes deviant, which brings us to the next wink.

The Lecherous Winker – Equivalent to the catcall, this wink will vibe you out immediately. It’s an unimpressive attempt to lure weak souls. If you ever witness such a wink, I would advise one to run in the opposite direction.

The Oblivious Winker – They have no idea that they just winked at you because winking has become embedded into their instinctive reactions. I wouldn’t consider this to be of any particular indication, but makes one wonder if it’s a nervous tick or if something is just wrong with their eyes.

The Non Winker – This is the person that tells everyone all about how they can’t wink then for some sad declaration of proof, they proceed show everyone how they can’t wink by making that forced blink, using more muscles in their mouth than in their eyes.

The Over-The-Top Winker – This is one sarcastic winker. Although mockery and sarcasm may employ ambivalence; in all honesty, I really enjoy this kind of wink. It’s the kind of wink that confirms that everyone is in agreement but there is no need to express it verbally.

The Texting Winker – It’s already confusing enough to decipher the meaning of a wink irl, even more so via text message. For example, my boss will send a condescending text message followed by a winking face. I think the intent was to lighten it up a little bit, but the message comes off more passive aggressive than anything.



There have been several iconic winks throughout history and after much research; I learned that if you’re a famous person who wants to make headlines, winking seems like a pretty low-effort, high-payoff way to do it. For example…

Sarah Palin is a notorious winker. Her most famous winking episode was in the vice presidential debate in 2008. Palin’s excessive winks were showcased on SNL and memes worldwide. Here is a link to the winks just in case you missed them.

Laurie Hernandez is the epitome of winkers.  She used the subtle gesture to signal confidence to the judges right before her floor routine in the Rio Olympics. It was her way of saying, “I got this.” And let me tell you, the girl got it! She then went on to score a 14.833!

George Bush nervously winked at the Queen of England after pulling his Texas sized boot out of his mouth.  The Queen’s response was undocumented but this gaffe, along with several other wth Bush moments, more than likely had her thinking, ‘This numpty bloke has lost his marbles.”


Another Presidential Wink (only much sexier):

I was curious as to what all the fuss was about, so I decided to give it a shot and try winking for a day. I logged the winks made to people that didn’t know about my social experiment. Maybe it’s an archaic notion that’s waning with older generations but I tried to bring it back, if only for a day.

(A wink from yours truly)

The Log of Winks:

5:11AM – I winked at my director. (She sits next to me at work. We mostly talk about customized dividers and colored pencils.) She turned her head down and said, “That’s interesting.” I don’t blame her. It was my first intentional wink, and almost as awkward as waving back at someone who is waving to the person behind you.

7:13AM – My second cousin complemented me in a photo I was tagged in on Facebook.  I replied with the winking “Face Throwing a Kiss” emoji. She liked my comment.

8:37AM – I winked at the sound guy. He was on his phone when I walked in the room. I got his attention and gave him one confident wink and walked away. He definitely noticed. There was no response.

10:29AM – I winked at my editor. I don’t think she noticed.

12:42PM – The cashier winked back at me! I think my wink came off too cheesy because I was extremely happy about the text I had received.

4:40PM – I winked at the cable guy. He nodded and smiled, genuinely. (I’m sure he was ecstatic that I offered to crawl under the house to cut the cable cord from 1950.) He then called my dog over and told her good bye.

7:26PM – I winked awkwardly at my brother in law. I was trying to wait patiently for the right time to wink but it never happened so did it mid sentence. He smirked at me. It was ineffective.

Things I have discovered after a day of winking.

  1. I’m not too prideful to admit that I am bad at winking.
  2. I wouldn’t suggest going around and winking at everyone out there. It is important to understand appropriate and inappropriate scenarios, and when and where not to wink.
  3. It’s not the most preeminent way to convey something in particular, being that the impression made is usually undisclosed and discarded.


Well, that’s all for now. Thanks for letting me waste your time 😉.  Have a great day, Julies!


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