Since I discovered the ability to precisely and independently wink my eyelids, the “say something weird about yourself” portion of every meet-n-greet has been taken care of for me. I know it’s a terribly unfun fact, but it’s the only upside to such a skill and I feel obligated to take advantage of it. So slinky and sentient are my eyelids that I’m known for accidentally slow-motion winking mid-conversation, much to the horror and confusion of whomever I’m conversing with.
I’m not sure if all of this makes me the authority on winks, but I’m going to declare myself as such anyway. And I’ll start by saying there are a litany of winking styles and almost all of them are terrible. In performing the below wink analysis, I struggled to find a single redeeming type (although I did eventually get there, trust). Also I learned there are far more than 17, but my magnum opus wasn’t built in a day, you know? Baby steps.
The completely useless wink
I thought it irresponsible to leave off my own aforementioned approach, which carries almost no emotional significance and instead serves as the easily-forgotten party trick no one asked for.
File under: wholly unnecessary
The “hey baby” wink
The “hey baby” wink is typically directed across a large room by the type of man who considers humility a grave weakness and feminism an existential threat. No recipient of this wink has ever been left satisfied.
File under: this wink must be stopped
The pop-star-finale wink
This one is not exclusive to female pop stars and can be found at the end of every music video, ad spot and live performance in the ’90s. Only the sorely misguided still use it today; it’s just as awful now as it was then.
File under: nope
The friendly, well-intentioned wink
This wink is native to pleasant, approachable people over the age of 30. Despite its noble intentions, this wink really isn’t necessary and is better left unblinked.
File under: I’d really rather you not
The sassy, all-knowing wink
I’m pretty sure no one has ever done this wink IRL. It’s deployed exclusively in video format and is, unfortunately, mostly not used for the sake of irony. It’s exaggerated, but not grossly so, which is maybe worse.
File under: kill this wink
The break-the-fourth-wall wink
The only thing worse than breaking the fourth wall is breaking the fourth and winking.
File under: just don’t
The goofy, over-exaggerated wink
This wink was really funny in elementary school when all of us learned about and became enamored with sarcasm as a form of comedy. It hasn’t pulled its weight in decades.
File under: prob don’t, but if I like you, fine
The “you think you know but you have no idea” wink
This wink — to be used in the form of this gif and this gif only — is used to communicate that which its recipient has no fucking idea about. Example:
Person: My bed is so comfortable, I could not be more at peace
Spider, descending from the ceiling: This gif
File under: use at your leisure
The post-sexual-innuendo wink
This particular atrocity is a favorite of sleazy men everywhere and is most often used to transform a benign comment (like say, “I didn’t sleep well last night”) into a suggestive one. In my experience, most women are physically allergic to this wink.
File under: when witnessed, take antihistamine immediately
The weirdly earnest wink
This brand of wink is exclusive to men and women over the age of 50. It can be spotted in grocery stores, sidewalks and other generic public spaces and is always performed by a nice-enough seeming stranger without context or explanation.
File under: not ideal
The trying-too-hard wink
This over-the-top wink is most easily spotted on the red carpet of the Teen Choice Awards or the face of a “cool mom.” That is to say, it’s cloying and inappropriately suggestive considering the immaturity of its intended audience.
File under: I beg you not
The far-too-serious sexy wink
While the winker of a far-too-serious sexy wink thinks what he’s done will make you want to take your clothes off and lock yourself in his bedroom, it actually makes you want to put three or four times as many clothes onto your already-clothed body and lock yourself in a refrigerator.
File under: under no circumstances do this
The wasted wink
The wasted wink is done by all women of all ages and is always funny and acceptable.
File under: please and thanks
The “smoking is not allowed” wink
The “smoking is not allowed” wink was popularized by the curiously flirtatious protagonist of a Delta aircraft safety video that made you feel low-key violated for years and has never been recreated since.
File under: rare af and to be avoided
The “I’m pickin up what you’re puttin down” wink
This cheesy wink is used primarily as a means of communication between a patron and the employee helping them, particularly where under-the-table transactions, friends-and-family discounts or free desserts are concerned.
File under: use sparingly and only when absolutely necessary
The too-confident catch-ya-l8r wink
A close relative to double-finger guns, this wink is employed by men who are and always have been conventionally attractive, resulting in a surplus of unchecked confidence that misleads them to believe people will find this little parting gift charming instead of douchey.
File under: absolutely not
The perfect wink
This wink, the bastion of all that is good, is performed exclusively by animals and is rumored to bestow upon all who see it as a wealth of fortune.
File under: forever and always
All gifs via GIPHY. Image via Getty.