The other day I was at the gym and I was waving goodbye to someone I knew, but two other people thought I was waving to them, which caused them to wave, too. I felt extraordinarily loved, even though I’m sure the other wavers felt weird after the waving incident, largely because there was a mirror so they could all see each other’s mistaken wave. I wanted to hug them all and tell them, I’ve been there, when someone waves and you don’t know if it’s at you and you don’t know what to do; I’ve been there so many times! I didn’t hug them because I knew just having the thought was abnormal, let alone acting on it, but I resolved to go home and write a column full of handy tips on how to cover up this awkward occurrence.
Don’t acknowledge that this person wasn’t waving at you. Instead, you should make it seem like you’re the one that started the waving frenzy. You want to make that person, the waver, question themselves while at the same time making them fall in love with you and your kind, friendly, not at all weird or creepy soul. As you wave back at them, look confident and poised. You can even say things like, “Bye stranger. You seem lovely and nice, so that’s why I started waving at you. Also I’m not weird or creepy, just really friendly.” You might feel uncomfortable doing this but, trust me, it’s way more uncomfortable to let the waving frenzy go unexamined.
Another option is to cover up your faux pas by turning your mistaken wave into another action entirely. For me, a nice and necessary hand/wrist stretch always does the trick. Make sure to look intent and concerned with wrist mobility as you move your hand and wrist back forth. This focus not only allows you to appear as if you were way too distracted and busy to wave, but it also requires you to avoid eye contact with the waver starter. Other activities you can pretend you’re performing include hand dancing, hand puppetry, and music conducting.
Become the type of person that waves at everyone constantly. This smacks of desperation. After you experience the mistaken waving, take a second to recover and then move onto waving to someone specific or everyone in general. And remember, there is no need to keep the same wave for everyone. Mix it up, because when it comes to waving, the same old same old can get boring fast.
If you are going to be the designated waver you should have fun exploring the art of waving. There are so many different types of waves that you can use to convey all sorts of emotions. If you want to seem regal there is always the beauty pageant wave, which needs no explaining and allows any loose flesh under your arm to stay motionless. If you want to seem busy and professional, I propose the workers wave, which involves waving your hand extremely fast and making a face that says, “I’m a serious business person, but I’m also sociable.” If you want to seem playful or flirtatious I suggest the sparkle, which calls for you to put your hand up slowly and deliberately, and wiggle your fingers as you break into a mischievous-looking smile. For an eccentric, quirky appearance, I recommend the twirly, a wave in which you stare intently at the person you’re waving at, open your eyes wide, then look to your hand as you spin it around wildly. Try all of these waves and feel free to create your own. Find the wave that best suits you and go with it.
Just stop waving, don’t look up at the person, and don’t acknowledge your action. Pretend it never happened. The best part about the wave of the wave starter is that it means that their departure is imminent, and once they leave, so will your embarrassment.
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