The Wave Divide
Including, but not limited to, the double, ultra-friendly kid country road wave.
When I was five and wholly alive, my teacher read me the story of “The City Mouse and the Country Mouse”. I liked the country one better, even though I’d always lived in cities. At that moment in Kindergarten, I decided I was going to marry a farmer and live in wide open green spaces where people were friendly.
Nineteen years later, I did.
After I moved out of town, my husband told me to wave at those I passed driving on our dirt road. He said they were neighbours, and you said hello by waving; especially along a track so narrow that someone has to give way.
“Oh, I was wondering why all these strangers keep waving at me when I have no idea who they are. I just thought they wanted to overtake, so I slowed down.”
My farmer glances skywards, telling me to just wave. Not that he demonstrated whether it was a vague flick, a two finger salute, a flash of hand, or a slow royal pivot of the palm.
From then on, I waved. I didn’t meet many people personally, but they knew my man. They knew his mum and dad, his brothers and sisters, what they did, where they were now, what class they went to in the local high school and the total family history, including pets.
Most neighbours avoided dropping in on us in those first delight filled honeymoon months. They must have been worried they were going to catch us at it if they did.
I hardly knew anyone, just those either side a few km away. I couldn’t say what sort of car they drove, though my bloke did. (Apparently, this comes naturally when you live half an hour from a township with fewer than three thousand people.)
Two months after moving to the farm, all those who lived along the gravel road got back to my new husband about the vigorous waving his new wife was doing.
I didn’t discriminate. I waved my hand back and forth four times with each passing car, all while smiling. People started talking about the manic waver who apparently married the young fella of Ralston.
“You don’t have to wave as if you’re seeing someone off on a six-month tour of Europe, you know?”
“You told me to wave, so I did.”
A look from him, eyebrows drawn together.
“That’s how I’ve always waved.”
“What’s wrong with waving like that?”
“You’ve never met any of them.”
“It’s a bit enthusiastic is all. Normally, you just nod your head a bit or put your hand up for half a second.”
“Why didn’t you tell me that before?”
“I didn’t think I needed to.”
“In Newcastle, the only time anyone waved near a car was to let you know there’d been an accident.”
“You’re in the country now; just tone down the waving thing, okay?”
“Surely if I do make a wave, and I do like waving now, I can wave any way I want to.”
Husband makes an audible sigh.
“I’m just saying I’m used to waving, I’ll keep going with it just the same if you don’t mind.”
There’s a second sigh from him, even more audible. It means what was an ordinary social nicety has become over the top.
After four months, the neighbours were used to my particular wave. They got in early; laughing, smiling and shaking their hands to me like a little girl saying goodbye to a beloved Grandmamma. If there were any children in the car, they waved their little arms off via the side and back window. I thought of this as the double, ultra-friendly kid country-road wave.
Decades later, I’m still waving. Now it’s more a quick hand flash, and a “Mona Lisa Smile” rather than a deluxe newbie wave that’s brim full of enthusiasm. I guess the honeymoon period was my happy place and I expressed that right into my fingertips. Now, when I’m passing someone I do know, I still go all out with a big wave.
It’s just me, but it’s also contagious.
I’ve tried the Therese Ralston Weird Wave and Smile Technique when I’m bored at traffic lights. People in other cars mostly wave back, even if they look around unsure of themselves, trying to figure out where they know me from first. Call me what you like, but I get a kick out of it.
It makes me smile more.
It gets my glow on.
It rocks my world until lights go green.
It makes me laugh out loud, especially if there’s also a dog who puts it’s head on the side to try and figure out how they know me as well.
Even better if that dog reacts at exactly the same time as the driver.
And if that dog leans the same way, or looks like the owner; I’m gone.
It’s better than sitting alone with red-light frustration any day.
Dogs also wave their tails when they’re happy to see someone. There are OTT wags and completely obvious butt wriggles I’m sure no mutt is embarrassed by; so, why not us?
Please don’t think I condone real people going around jiggling our tushes’ at everyone we meet, but why not give a little wave.
Just a small one.
It will make you feel better.
Hello, are you still with me?
I’m waving at you across the www divide.
Are you smiling, possibly waving back; or will you dismiss me lightly as a lunatic with simply too much positivity for a Sunday Medium post?