Hi, How’re You Doing?

Mar 16

SmileyFace2

You want the short answer? 
Or the truth?

Perhaps because brevity is the soul of wit, or more likely, because we are conditioned from birth by smiley faces, we usually say:

“Fine!”

If we’re polite we add, “Thanks, and you?”

If we were to be honest . . . well, that’s another matter entirely.

Take yesterday morning in the elevator. Staggering in at my floor, the 14th, I could only hope that I would make it to the lobby without encountering another human person. No such luck. A nice looking, polite young man got in on 10 and asked me how I was doing.

What did I say? Guess. But if I had the slightest suspicion that he actually wanted the truth, and why the hell would he, here it is:

A good friend had just died, and no matter how inevitable you knew it was, you are always shocked and flattened by the news. As some great philosopher, or was it that guy at the office, once said, “Death isn’t the worst thing, but it’s the most.”

Meanwhile, At Molly’s Pub. . .

JoeTheBartenderI already knew that pearl of wisdom, but yesterday I found out something more practical:  you probably shouldn’t tell an Irish bartender that you’re having a drink because you’re in mourning.

Then Gallagher, O’Brien, Murphy, or Joe The Bartender himself will give you the look: the look that says: I understand. You’re doing the right thing. You came to the right place.

Then he will give you the largest martini (or scotch or beer) on God’s Green Earth, and leave you to your sorrows. He will not say anything comforting beyond a sincere  “Oh, my,” and he won’t give you advice, because obviously you’ve figured all by yourself  that the only way to get through this bleepin’ day is with the largest (name your poison) you are capable of imbibing. Tip: Eat fries with it. It will soak up some of the booze. Then skip dinner and go to sleep.

As good a plan as any, but what about the morning after. . .

Thanks to a judicious use of Tylenol and lots of water before going to sleep, my head was not aching in the morning, and my stomach only mildly upset, but my heart, well, that’ s another matter. Meanwhile, life goes on, and I had things to do.

Could I have told all this to the guy in the elevator? I don’t think so. 
Should you ever tell the truth about how’re you doing? Maybe.

But How Do You Really Feel?

When I met someone in front of the building  I know better than Elevator Man, who, to the best of my knowledge, I have never seen before, I did tell her how I really felt, in abridged form of course.

But this was an extreme case. Of, literally, life and death. What if it were something more . . . mundane. Suppose that tomorrow morning, the first person you meet asks you how you’re doing, and you answer:

“I have gas.”

Most likely, the person you inflict this bit of TMI on would simply say, “Oh,” and move immediately down wind, so to speak.

I suppose that an actual conversation could evolve, about Shared Encounters of the Gastric Kind, but honestly, do you want to start your day like this?

Better to just say, “Fine.”

On the other hand, I’ve always found it useful to warn folks when I’m in a bad mood. Without going into the gruesome details, I tell them not to take it personally if I’m snappish because “I’m just having a bad day.” You have to keep it really general, or news will spread like wildfire throughout the kingdom that you are in some profound doo-doo. “Cranky” is a good word to use: it implies temporary moodiness, not something, you should pardon the expression, terminal.

So.  

Should you ever tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

Only if you’re taking the stand in a murder trial, or talking to a really good friend who would do the same for/to you.

Or if you have a blog and feel blabby.

dreamstime_xs_10990281Certainly not to your doorman, the woman at the deli, or your co-worker at the water cooler. BTW, the guy in the elevator answered “Good!” when I did the “Fine and you?” routine. “Good?” Really? Better than “Fine?” But not as good as “Great?” Maybe that was the truth. Maybe this guy has no problems. Maybe he’s in love. Or just got a promotion. We’ll never know.

At least he didn’t say, “Have a nice day.” I’m thankful for that.

And that’s the truth.

 

For a blog of happier days, which I promise will be here again, go to: 
Come To The Cabaret!

 

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