I’m fine, thanks.
I think that I would like to expand upon last week’s blog a little. What? You didn’t read it? Ok, I’ll wait……………………….
Still waiting………… There, now we’re ready to continue. Communication is important, but you have to know what to say and when to say it. Sometimes people don’t understand that you’re just trying to be polite. There’s nothing worse than getting caught in a conversation, just because you were nice enough to say hi or not fast enough to duck behind the bench at the mall.
We all have been out and about and run into a person we haven’t seen in a long time. Maybe they were a close friend with whom you lost touch. Maybe an ex girl/boyfriend. Former coworker, classmate, one night stand or fifth cousin once removed. (If the last two combine to be the same person, that behavior is only acceptable if you’re in Appalachia or certain parts of Mississippi) Whomever you run into, here are the best ways to answer the “cookie cutter” questions that will inevitably spill from your and their lips.
First of all, the obvious, “How are you?” Ok, this is simple. If you don’t really know the person all that well, there’s a 95% chance that they don’t care how you are and are just being polite. Those are pretty good odds. If you were at the casino, you’d bet everything on the answer, “Fine”. Ladies, if you run into someone that you never talk to or see, they really don’t want to hear about your kids, your new sassy “I don’t need a man” attitude or how you finally had to change gynecologists, because the speculum was never warmed up or it was too warm. Guys, nobody cares that you got divorced, bought a new huge pickup(to compensate for losing your wife or possibly some other “short”coming) and they sure as hell don’t want to hear about your latest colonoscopy! The latter, being comparable to the conversation happening at that exact moment. The acceptable answers are “Fine”, “Good” or “Great”. If the person really wants to hear about your ups and downs, they will change the phrasing to this… “How are you doing?” If you hear that, feel free to share the most personal of details of your life with the poor fool who asked.
The next one can be tricky. “What’s up?” To a certain generation, the addition of the word “Doc” to that phrase will evoke fond memories of clever, smart mouthed rabbits and hunters who don’t seem bright enough to be allowed to operate firearms. That’s where the fun ends, though. “What’s up?” is a dangerous question. It leaves us open to be assaulted with a barrage of current happenings, that if you had any interest in whatsoever, you’d already know about them and wouldn’t have to ask. It can be confused with the previous, but more specific, “How are you?”, but make no mistake, this question will make you wish the one thing that is “Up” is the time you have for this conversation. Things that are “Up” that we don’t care about: what you bought at the grocery store today, that you had to take your cat to the vet this morning, that your oldest child just got the lead in their school play and any polyps located anywhere that you had removed at any time! The acceptable answers to this question are as follows: “Not Much” and if you want to get really detailed, “Not too much”. Hey, if you want to throw an awkward pause in there, try, “Nothing since my Viagra prescription ran out”.
There are many derivatives of these simple expressions that will make you rethink your decision to leave the house on this day. “How’s it going?” “What’s going on?” “What are you up to?” All of these questions will get you into long drawn out conversations, if asked to those not understanding that it’s just the social convention to be polite. It’s great if you have the ability to appear that you’re listening and interested when you’re not. Unfortunately, that skill is generally developed after years of marriage. How often have you gotten a fake text, looked at your watch, because “you have an appointment” or blamed your significant other for having to get home before they send out a search party? These are all good ideas. Also, I have patented the Walking Wave. That way you can say, Hi and (much like a running back trying to plow into the end zone from the one yard line) just keep your feet moving!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not speaking for myself. I love the art of conversation and am happy to hear anything a casual acquaintance has to say to me as I’m struggling to make my way to the next destination. I’m a social butterfly and I can’t wait to soak in every tidbit of information about your wildly exciting trip to the dermatologist to get a rather suspect looking mole checked out or your unpleasant bout with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Oh, geez, I’m glad I checked the time. I just got a text from my girlfriend reminding me that I have an eye exam in ten minutes and I need to rush straight home after, for dinner. We’ll continue this conversation another time.
About: Ted Snyder
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