Bring back the wink, and a little civility
I enjoyed reading "Bemoaning the Lost Art of the Wink" by Ronald Talney, who contributes a monthly column titled "My World" to The Review, and former Pamplin Media Group editor Mikel Kelly's article titled "Some of us were raised to be quiet and not attract undue attention." Both decried the loss of respect for privacy that many of us enjoyed before the advent of the cell phone.
Our world seems increasingly loud and often crude in our need for attention and our desire for a few minutes of fame through Facebook or Twitter. We are so absorbed with our phones that we cross streets without watching for traffic, hitting obstacles, even falling into holes, as we blank out the world around us. Our obsession with our phones doesn't allow us to notice the subtleties. Would we even notice a wink? Wasn't that a wink that I saw from French President Macron at the G20? Perhaps the French still appreciate the gesture.
My generation appreciated understatement, decorum, propriety. In college, although there were unruly frat parties, I also remember wearing dainty, white gloves to teas, and hoping to avoid the wrath of my dorm mother (East Landon at Michigan State University) who would stand outside the door to usher us in at curfew. Once I was reprimanded when my future husband-to-be lifted me up and swung me around as we were saying goodnight after a date. My house mother was practically apoplectic — this was not proper behavior!
I remember lessons in etiquette beyond learning where to place a knife and fork at the dinner table. We were taught how a proper young lady should sit: Legs crossed or put together to one side with skirts pulled down and tucked. Men were allowed, even encouraged as we see now in society, to sit spread-legged, taking up space, assuming a power position. I watched President Trump take this position when he met with Putin. He also put his hands together in a wedge shape, protruding out between his legs, to emphasize his masculinity.
I may be talking about differences between the sexes now. The norms for women have always been more conservative, at least until the '60s when women burned bras and participated in free love. Flower children of that era seemed so free and yet so innocent (if we put aside drug use). It was "make love, not war"; rock concerts and communes brought everyone together. No time for navel gazing unless the music of Bob Dylan or John Lennon brought you there. If you had to make a call, you went to a phone booth.
Mikel Kelly says that society is separated into two camps: those who appreciate privacy and those who don't. Perhaps that extends to cover those who like to be in charge and those who don't. My son Matt admitted to me that in college he didn't drink because he saw the crazy antics that many of his classmates committed when they were drunk. He was the outside observer who looked at the behavior and decided that he didn't want to be identified with those who lost control, who were mocked and labeled. He practiced a sense of decorum and control that sometimes seems rare today.
The downside for all the control freaks may come later though when they ask themselves why they didn't sow wild oats, burn bras or experience free love.
Maybe that's why in our 40s we experience mid-life crises and buy fancy sports cars or have affairs. Later most come to their senses.
We are who we are. By the way, who coined the phrase "control freaks?"
Is it better to be out of control? We have only to look at riots in the streets to answer that question.
In this current conflicted time of brash and crass behavior, some have come to accept "locker room talk" as the norm. It was bad enough to hear it at frat parties when I was young, or at family gatherings when Uncle So-and-So drank so much he speed-dialed his scapegoated family member to call out obscenities. People who stop themselves from acting on base impulses should be admired. Let's hear a shout-out for people in control. Bring back civility, a wink — maybe even a smile, and little, white gloves.
Jacquelyn Gatewood is a member of the Jottings group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.