It’s said that the origin of the queen’s wave dates back to the era of King George V and Queen Mary, both enthusiastic wavers who after suffering wrist strains, sought a medical consultation and modified their greetings to the masses to the present day “opening a jam jar” royal motion.
I bring this up as I was thinking about the many ways we greet and acknowledge people we don’t know during various everyday activities. As I was taking one of my solitary walks this evening on a local bike path, I fell into my “give a half nod and weak wave” habit as I passed strangers tramping in the opposite direction. It’s that odd thing, wherein you don’t want to be rude and ignore someone you don’t know, but also don’t want to come across as a crazed, staring stalker.
I have noticed informally that people in my age bracket are more likely to return my wave or make some eye contact. Young boys and most young girls or women stare straight ahead, or have mastered the art of walking while checking texts and so don’t feel obliged to engage at all. I tend to veer too much to one side, heading for trees or ravines when I try to multi task like that. What a talent they have, (she said sarcastically)!
So how did all of this crazy waving and nodding start, anyway? I mean, why don’t we just bump heads or do the shimmy when we see people instead? According to that great online all-knowing explainer of things, Wikipedia, waving likely started out in the late 1700’s as a military salute. Fancier folks even waved handkerchiefs to either show their approval or to signal someone.
In my small lake community, everyone waves at one another when passing in cars. My late husband James used to take it to the extreme. While in our car passing a neighbor he would loudly proclaim, “How ya’ doing!” while giving an exaggerated wave, even though they could not hear him from the sealed safety of their own vehicle. And if I failed to wave or to acknowledge a wave, he called me on it. He was of course being a bit of a smart ass.
I don’t know where he got that from.