My question might seem trivial for this advice column but it’s important to me! So please… bear with me. Here’s the thing; all my neighbors are friendly and outgoing. I’m not a giddy man. Our whole neighborhood is like a hokey 1950s TV show – everyone are always smiling and waving to each other, all the time.
I’m serious… I can’t figure out why you should need to wave, smile and “hiya, neighbor!” a person you just saw (and acknowledged) 5 minutes ago? It makes me uncomfortable. I don’t even like most of these people!
Is there some kind of etiquette that describes this? How much are you supposed to wave to a neighbor? Not only that, how many times are you supposed to wave? Doing it once might seem arrogant… Then again, I think waving 5-6 times looks desperate and needy.
I realize that my conundrum might seem silly but it’s a serious question. My wife gets heart palpitations and cold sweats every time she walks out the front door!
Dear King Of Sticks,
I feel your pain. In general, smiling and grinning excessively is a sign of submission amongst chimpanzees, gorillas and other ape species. In small ape groups (neighborhoods… or rather shrewdness of apes (scientific)) – smiling/grinning is what truly submissive, sick and weak individuals do, as not to get chastised or expelled from the group.
It will be easier for you if you look at your neighborhood as a shrewdness of apes… A quick smile and briefly showing the palm of your hand should be enough for your weaker apes. Do realize that many of them are sick or even dying and they just want to be acknowledged.
Over time, everyone will get used to your body language. In fact, they will soon start looking at you as their leader (800 lbs. silverback) gorilla) as you never crawl, and always do your own thing.
Try it! You will see that I’m right.