May 05 2012

Three (not so) innocent little words

How are you?

Three little words. A set of words, formed into an innocent question, the answer to which no one really cares to hear.

Is the answer “Fine” or something else?

“Busy.” “Tired.” “Crazed.” “Stressed.” “About to crack over things no one outside my familial walls would understand or even care.”

Has anyone ever answered something positive?

How are you?

We ask the question as a cultural courtesy. We need something to say, you see. Can’t just say, “Hi! So good to see you!” Or “I was thinking about you the other day.” Or “I’m so glad you’re here.”

Could we come up with a different question for those we haven’t seen in awhile, or for acquaintances we barely know?

Maybe “Hey there! What have you done lately that you’re proud of?” or “Dude! What’s the best thing in your life right now?” or “Hi! How are your bunions?”

Those questions, while a little more probing and honest, are a hell of a lot more likely to get a real answer than the typical “How are you?” That merely puts the weight of how honest an answer do they want on the person about to answer.

Because I’m not fine, I am busy/tired/crazed/stressed/about to crack over things no one outside my familial walls would understand or even care.

But dude, my bunions have never been better.


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  1. Simonek

    Thank God! I was really worried about your bunions…. xx

    1. Jen

      Bwahahahhaha!!!! I just hurt myself laugh/snorting. 🙂 LOL

  2. Siggi

    I like to ask folks what has them excited, or what do they like to think about. I get lots of double takes when I ask, since I give eye contact while I’m at it, and folks realize that I actually want to know something about them, that I’m actually *interested*. Some folks shy away from it, which is ok, but most get really into it (after a toe dip or two), and it has started some wonderful conversations with friends old and new. 🙂

    Sorry things are being crazy/stressful/insane. At least you don’t have to worry about shoveling any time soon, eh? Hang in there!

  3. My Kids Mom

    I’ve always wondered if other people thought about this too. I think I was late to the party realizing that this was being asked as a courtesy and that the asker didn’t want me to really answer. One of those things us socially inept have a tough time learning.

    Me? I’m on the roller coaster that is May, and right now I’m riding it smoothly even though I know there are some fast, rough corners coming up ahead. I think that I’m prepared.

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