Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Just Answer the Question

One of my favorite things is to answer the question “How are you?” In our culture, this question fills the role of protocol. It is a social lubricant, not really a question, not even really words, just noise we make to signal to each other that we are social and generally wish to get along. A real answer is not expected. The custom is to return an appropriate corresponding social signal. Once the pleasantries are over, the business begins.

So it is a great delight to answer this question with a totally appropriate but wholly unexpected answer. I have several stock answers laid up, ready to use at a moment’s notice and I think I shall come up with a few more.

How are you?
Outstanding! (spoken with unnecessary gusto)

This is my most common answer. It is simple and direct and the tone carries all the meaning. It makes people snap to attention, smile, and often comment on how that’s the best thing they’ve heard all day.

How are you?
If I was any better, there’d be two of me.

How are you?
If I was any better, vitamins would be taking me.

How are you?
I’m so good I’m thinking of franchising myself.

How are you?
I’m just high on life! Oh Yeah! Thanks for asking.

How are you?
I’m enormously wealthy, thank you.

(When asked the inevitable follow up question, explain in a matter-of-fact tone that you are wealthy in love, family, freedom, etc. Watch their eyes roll back in their heads. It’s terribly amusing. When they say “I thought you meant money.” Say, “Oh yeah, that too.” You don’t have to tell them that you mean that simply by living in America and being better than federal poverty level, you are still likely to be among the 10% of the most wealthy people in the world. )

How are you?
Well, I have many super powers and a colossal bulk that frightens evil villains.

How are you?
Great. I killed 3 dragons today. I’m a little sore, but still…I’m great!

The possibilities are endless. It really annoys some people. Others really love it. Either way, it's good.


The Scylding said...

I remember well the lady, that when I answered "well" to that question, continued by asking "how are you really"? Made a great impression.

Dubbahdee said...

Yes, she was asking a real question, wasn't she? I have done this on occassion, but I only do it with people I really know, and who I really do care how they are at that given moment. Conversely, I have answered the question on occassion with a real heart answer. But I only do this with people I know are truly asking. Frankly, most people do not want to know the truth, do not need to know the truth, and would be bored, appalled or embarrassed by the truth.

Anonymous said...

Living in Southern California, the ritual is incedibly fast: Howareyadoing?Great!You?Great.

I roomed for a while with a seminary student from Iowa. I'd rush into the apartment to grab something real quick with a "Hey Scot, howareyadoing?" Pause..... Well....I guess things are ok. I talked to my mom last night and....

It took me a few months to break him of this! As Wendy and I reflected on God's call on our lives, we both said, "God, we'll go anywhere, just don't send us to Iowa."

As a Californian, I had a reputation of being a really nice guy... In Iowa, I would be a big jerk.

Ron Jung