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This is my column for November. I think waving is an important aspect to life here on the island but election day gives us a chance for a day off.

Human Kind-Know Waving

I am a born waver. My dad and grandfather were too. It may be a learned trait but given the opportunity I will wave to anyone. I’m not sure but the urge to wave may be genetic. I usually can’t help but wave. It’s a friendly thing to do and really doesn’t hurt. Of course waving comes in many forms and does not always require using the whole hand. There’s the finger point, the military salute, the nod, the full side to side wave, the prom queen, the two finger hands on the steering wheel finger point, and if your are a farmer the stand up wave.

Now in many places, I grew up in Plain City, we waved to just about everyone, most all of the time. We often had no idea who we were waving to, just did it because it was the friendly thing to do. Here on South Bass by November we have the advantage of pretty much knowing everyone we wave to, at least by face and/or car as they pass by.

Of course in the summer it is much more challenging to recognize the cars and faces. I often have been fooled into waving at people I thought I knew. In the big picture however, waving to everyone in the summer is just good public relations. Visitors go home thinking that the islanders were friendly and that makes it a positive experience for them. It’s really good for business.

But you can’t truly appreciate the friendliness we enjoy here until you move to a place like New England. They don’t wave there unless they’re flagging you down to get the police. They often won’t even look at you unless they know you. If you ever visit Boston, real Bostonians will usually look down or away from you as they pass you on the street.

This was the most difficult part of living back east for me. I would still wave at everyone and mostly get back odd looks or be ignored completely. My kids, who were born in Massachusetts, were embarrassed. They often would say things like “why do you do that, do you think you’re the mayor or something?” Yes in fact I guess I had the misguided notion that I was. (By the way in New England except in the big cities there are no mayors, just “selectmen” so it was safe to be the mayor I figured). Really in my mind I was just trying to be perceived as a friendly person since I was an outsider there and according to local New England traditional rules would never be considered a “townie” ever. For me it was like being a fish out of water. That is probably why I am such an enthusiastic waver now that I am back home in Ohio.

Now I am not here to lecture on the pros and cons of waving, or to encourage full on “waving at everyone” propaganda, but instead I would like to propose we have one day we don’t wave at all. Yes the “all new” No Wave Day 2008. I think this years Election Day might be perfect for this. After a long summer, we are all pretty tired of being nice, and we deserve a day to be introverted and unfriendly. Let the political candidates and their supporters have their day, wave and pretend to be nice. They can wave for all of us.

I can tell you now that through all the nearly 30 years of living back east I had to work very hard every day to not wave. I know how difficult this may be, but having the day off just might be the thing the doctor ordered. Imagine one whole day to ignore your neighbors, to be completely self-absorbed. I think you will find it will feel wonderful. Some of you, like me, might have to work very hard not to wave or be friendly. Think of it as your civic duty. When No Wave Day is over we will all feel refreshed and ready to wave once again!

Peter Huston


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