In my neck of Missouri's woods there's a greeting method that's taken some getting used to: 98.98% of the people driving a vehicle acknowledge passing motorists, be it a car, truck, tractor or 18-wheeler. This is done with a raised index finger while gripping the steering wheel. No free-hand waving, no side-to-side rocking of the hand that might be interpreted as a wave. Just the single index finger lift. This is the Man Howdy. The Woman Howdy is different. A little more effort involved. A woman will raise all five fingers, wrist rested on the steering wheel. No waving or finger wiggling, just the raised hand.
Being familiar or knowing the person is not a requirement for the drive-by-greeting. It's simply a courteous way of acknowledging someone passing by, and it's done by drivers to pedestrians as well. Just a polite How-Dee-Doo. It was odd at first, having people I've never seen, never met, giving me a lift-a-finger wave, but not any more. It's even become part of my driving etiquette. It's charming and friendly.
But not as charming and friendly as the greeting I experienced a few days ago coming out of a grocery store. Just thinking about it makes me smile. And sigh.
If I were a flouncy skirted, petticoat wearing lady living in the "Wild West" period of America's history, expert at waving a fan in the classic, feminine, "Oh My!" gesture at the sight of a nice-looking cowboy, my fan would have been flapping double time that day. With a grocery bag in each hand I exited the store via the automatic doors. As I stepped out into the sunny day, I nearly collided with a man who must have confused the Exit door with the Enter door. He stepped back and said,
"Pardon me, ma'am".
I had only a few seconds to take in his appearance but being the observer of people that I am, I made good use of that
time. Long legs decked out in worn jeans tucked into dusty cowboy boots adorned with spurs; an image of a man on horseback on a belt buckle as big as a spatula; black shirt with pearl snaps common to western wear; black cowboy hat. He touched the brim of that hat and tipped his head with a nod and a beautiful smile.
"That's okay," I replied, with just the right amount of sophisticated casualness to make it sound like this kind of encounter was commonplace for me.
He took another step back, this time off to the side to give me room to go around him, and with another dip of his head and quick smile, he entered the store.
Such a simple thing, a gen-u-ine cowboy, tip-of-the-hat wave that put a smile on my face for a long while after being on the receiving end of it. Wayyyyy more charming than the index finger wave. Made me very happy that the MOTH BNTB and I moved from gator country to cowboy country. Yes, indeedy. Very happy.