ANOTHER: “How are you?”
ME: “Well, I’m pushing toward the inevitable end of the human race and, quite possibly, the universe. Isn’t this what all of us are doing right now?”
According to my sources, “Living the dream” is no longer an appropriate response to the above query. “Great” is passe, supposedly. “I’m fine, and you?”, too antiquated. Replying with, “Who’s asking?” is apparently sarcastic, and “I guess o.k.” not definitive enough. “Swell” is certainly dated along with “Groovy, man”, “Peachy”, and “Tops, sister!” ….
All those, and many replies frequently used, are out. Good, I say. Certainly glad the stuffed shirts decided to take away my pleasure of using such pedantic retorts. Now I have the highest honor of crafting slightly restive returns. My only challenge is not receiving a physical response from either a larger male fist planted in my cornea or an angry senior citizen spanking a bluggendry cane across my sharp-witted kisser.
… And so began my lunch conversation with a very kind gentleman at the lunch counter today. He asked, I answered with the above. Universe be damned. We’re ultimately doomed to be sucked into the sun. Get over it, folks.
Ed is his name. We cross paths frequently, so he’s very much … very much … aware of my proclivity for using sarcasm as a tool to open locks of human interaction between friends. Most of my acquaintances are aware of this trait, tool, insecurity, goof-off, .. whatever label you wish to use is fine with me. Without a history of strange coincidences or normal happenstances between us, I would say, “G’day, to ya” and tip my hat. Other than that, all bets are off and you get what you get from my always respectful, but non-quotidian brain.
Here’s what I figure: There exists, somewhere, anthologies for almost everything. So, I googled “smart-a** responses” because I figured this would be the closest public phrase describing my query: “How do I answer differently when someone asks me how I am and I don’t want to say ‘I’m fine’ in a nice, normal way?” GOOGLE: About 651,000 results (0.26 seconds). I knew it!! Now, me being me, a self-described non-conformist who wouldn’t stand to salute the words on any another literary flag, I find myself in a familiar position. Create my own little compendium of contemptuous comebacks to the ever-so interrogatory inquiry, “How are you?”….
“I want to be glad you asked … but I’m not. I’m always five white balls and one other red ball away from at least 40 million dollars that’s, most assuredly, going to end up in someone else’s wad-wallet.”
“I don’t know. How are YOU? … And if you tell me everything is super in your life, I’m not going to believe it and suggest you re-read ‘How to Get a Real Life Now’ that I loaned you before you started smoking the positive magic grass.”
Wanting to keep going with the list, I find this road of a positive blog post having an exit ahead to another therapy session town, so I’ll leave the list at two. Suffice to say, there are more times than not I really don’t want to answer the question. Thus, the sarcasm. Especially when, “How are you, … really?” invites itself into the party.
Hopefully you’re like me in some ways. In other ways, not. I like brutal truth. “How are you?” is so over used and almost meaningless anymore. If you give a true answer back, there’s almost never time for compassion and sympathy in return. Not always, though. This isn’t absolute, mind you, just hardy ever. I’ve found eye contact is the key – if you have that, stay with it .. there’s hope of a meaningful connection there.
For me, I’m sticking with sarcasm. I love to laugh with my people. This helps me heal. I also like to look at myself and ask, “How are you?” … and be brutally honest with myself – sometimes sarcastic, sometimes not. The answers aren’t always easy, but they’re real. It’s what all of us should be doing right now.