I come from a family of winkers. I swear if my family had been on the Titanic, the last thing I would have seen my Dad do as he sank beneath the cold, dark sea would have been one last wink and gone.
The wink could be quick and crisp, a nano-flick that moved few other facial muscles. It could be slow and tight, a cyclopean clench that suggested Bell's Palsy. It had several speeds. It was intentional or automatic. It was a family facial semaphore with several meanings: 'Good morning.' 'He doesn't know what he's talking about.' 'I'm just joshing you.' 'We're in this together.' It was by turns welcoming, mocking, denying, reassuring, or conspiratorial.
Like many family tics, we didn't not notice it, until a friend visited for the weekend and asked after, "Why do you all wink at each other?" "We do?" "Are you kidding? All the time. Walking into a room. When someone else is talking. At first I thought your brother was flirting with me at dinner. He just wanted the mashed potatoes."
Despite my long experience decoding winks, I just caught the very tail end of Sarah Palin's v-p debate wink as one perfectly made-up eyelid rose again to the open position. "Did she just wink?" I asked. I had been momentarily distracted, not by daubing my Palin Bingo card [I did not win] but by turning to shush my galpal. As I turned back, I saw the vapor trail of what I knew was a wink. Damn!
Moderator Gwen Ifill, had been drudged all week as partisan because she's writing a book about the new generation of black politicians. That was no reason to break her ankle. Ifill did her level best, though she did not ask one question about immigration or abortion. Could Palin have pulled another answer out of her energy package? Palin, the inexperienced Reaganette, attempted to "there-you-go-again" Biden's experience and establish rapport not with the politicos out there on the east coast but with the mind-if-I-call-you-Joe-Six-Packs in Smallville, USA.
Like Biden, I also got choked up during the debate. Sadly the only moment of unanimity of the night was that both candidates oppose gay marriage. Apparently the B of LGBT stands for bipartisan, not bisexual. Palin practically wiped her hands and chirped tolerantly, "I'm so glad we agree on that Joe." After all our LGBT support and hard work for the Obama-Biden ticket, it was sickening. Mind if I call you chicken, Joe?
What I find staggering is that, in the midst of wars and financial collapse, we are talking seriously and at all about McCain's Folly. Sarah Palin is a folksy, well-trained, Wikipedia-deep, by-George-she's-got-it, bush-to-nowhere. Fine for governor up there in Alaska, but not for vice-president down here on planet earth. She is way over her head. She will wink just before we all sink.