I don’t know about you, but I’m wondering when we can officially stop saying, “Happy New Year!” to every damn body. I mean it’s already the freaking sixth of January, and we’re still saying it? And it’s not just people who I’m seeing for the first time in the new year that are saying it either. I’ve had the same people tell me “Happy New Year!” multiple times! What is the point?! Is it because they know that 2009 was a really shitty year for me, or do they have nothing better to say to me? I rank it up there with those other instinctual comments and questions that people mutter to passersby without even really listening for a response.
One of these such questions is the old, “How were your holidays?” I don’t really know if people are fully prepared for my particular answer to this question. Truth be told, my holidays were very sad and a bit strange without my parents for the first time in the history of my existence. But do I dare regurgitate all this information onto each and every person’s face who poses this question? No, of course I don’t. Surprisingly, I’m not that much of a jackass. Instead, I simply say, “They were good, thanks. How were yours?”
Another one that always gets me, especially coming from complete strangers, is the old stand-by, “How are you?” Why on earth do we say this to people we don’t know? We know damn well that we are on a limited time schedule and don’t have time to listen to a long-winded reply, so why would we expect someone else to do the same for us? Honestly, am I stupid enough to believe that the dry cleaner REALLY wants to know about the general state of my well-being? Does he REALLY want to know that I’m in an extremely pissy mood? Does he REALLY want to know that my daughter peed all over the toilet seat, and that I sat in it? Does he REALLY want to know that the dog had a frozen clump of shit on his piehole and that I had to clean it off? No, I’m not thinking that he does. So, what do we typically say in response? We say, “Fine, thanks. How are you?”
If you ask me, it’s all just a waste of breath. They are superficial comments that elicit superficial responses. It’s like when you give someone else a $20 gift card for Christmas, and in exchange, they give you a $20 gift card for yourself. Why not just save your money and call it even? The same can be said of meaningless small talk. We should say what we mean and mean what we say. If we’re not really fine, we shouldn’t say that we are. We should say that life is sucky at the moment if, in fact, that’s what it is. And if the person can’t handle our response, then tough toenails. Don’t ask the question if you don’t want to know the answer.