I’ve been thinking about winking recently. It’s not something I think about very often, but it occurred to me that winking is a learned behavior that I have yet to take advantage of. I have the same problem with honking. If someone cuts me off, I swerve and/or brake to avoid them, but then a few minutes down the road think to myself, “Blast! I should have honked.” The same is true with winking (except for the swerving and braking part).
I have a dry sense of humor, and will often make jokes without cracking a smile. Sometimes people don’t get the joke, so I have to explain it and I’ll think, “I should have winked while I said the joke, thus tipping the person off that I was being humorous.” However, winking at the time I think to wink would be more likely to alarm the person rather than alert them of humor.
This thought process has led me to wonder where winking came from originally, but a few cursory Google searches didn’t turn anything up.
Maybe a funny person had an eye twitch and it just caught on from there.