Saturday, 28 September 2013


I'm about to upset/offend all those dearest to me. The people I love the most in fact. And total strangers too. I can't take it any more.

Stop asking me how I am. 

I must have answered that question a million times. I either say fine, or I get mischievous. I'll say something totally random.

Yes, I know, you care. I know you are sincere. But you KNOW how I am. I'm fine. If I wasn't I'd make sure you knew about it.

It's a form of greeting. Nobody even expects an answer.

"How are you?"

"Oh, I'm fine, how are you?"

"Oh fine!"

Or some variation on that. No real conversation can be done until that's over. It's a ritual, it's boring and I wish it would go away.

When I phone someone, I don't do it. I give them a cheery greeting...."HELLO!" and launch into what it is I'm calling about. Note: I never, ever call anyone just to chat. Is never going to happen. Don't wait for me to do that, or the next call you'll get will be when I've heard you are dying and I REALLY care about how you are.

If you recently had surgery, or a messy divorce, or your house blew up, then I'll ask about how things are going with you. But I may phrase it a bit more logically, or...gosh...thoughtfully.

There is nothing more fucking crass in all this world than reporters who interview survivors of some dreadful trauma and say "How do you feel?" How do you think they feel? Fine? Give me a break.

No, and in fact, apart from the fact that the truthful answer is "relieved to be alive" or "ready to cut my own throat" or whatever, nobody actually wants to hear that. It's all a macabre ritual.

And we lie during the regular "How are you?" sessions too don't we?

How many times have you visited your doctor, in agony, and he says "And how are you today?" and you say "Oh fine!" and then remember, no, wait, I came to the doctor in pain, what am I saying?

It's drivel. We talk drivel.

My family and friends are wonderful, and they love me, but they insist on asking me how I am. If I'm conscious, upright, with the power of speech, and not actually whimpering or screaming - I'm fine. Just take it as read.

But we have a new one now, don't we. It is not enough to drive me crazy with this greeting (that you don't REALLY want the answer to), you have to phone or text me at intervals and ask.....

"How's your day going?"

I'm not even sure you expect an answer to that, I think it's an "opener". You have no real reason to call me, you just need an excuse.

If I say "Fine" you are happy, you go on from there.

If I say "Fucked up, actually" you don't know what to say, and wish you hadn't asked. So don't ask.

However, thankfully, all praise to all attentive deities (I like to cover my bases) the chances are, I'm having a good day. In fact it's a VERY good chance, because:

1) I generally have good days, and
2) If I don't you tend to hear about it long before you ask.

I have a new set of stock answers as of 7 o'clock Monday morning. No, make that 6.30, the calls start early. Pick one.

"How's your day going?"

1. It is going fine, thank you.
2. It has only just begun and is too early to tell.
3. 给我弄点喝。现在。
4. I'd be fine if I didn't keep getting interrupted by stupid questions.
5. There's a hippopotamus eating my dahlias.
6. I'm getting better at it, but I think that's a very politically incorrect way to enquire about my Spanish studies.

Now, I know, yes, I know, even though you are not one of the culprits here, you are pouting. You are saying what a jolly rotten sport I am, and mean old Melanie not playing along with cultural norms. You are saying how I should be bloody grateful that I have friends and family who care about me.

You are of course absolutely correct.

But I'm done, OK? I'm bored out of my tree with grinning and bearing as we launch into this ritual yet again, and of coming up with ever more creative sarcasm in reply to try to put you off. It's not working.

I love you. I love you dearly. I'm always happy to hear from you. I have time for you. But can we just KILL the small talk?

This was a public service announcement.

(Edit: For those of you with no sense of humour...go boil your head)


  1. I am SO stealing that Hippopotamus line... it's brilliant!! *ROFL*

  2. LOL! Do you know how many years it took me to stop responding to that question with an actual answer? I FINALLY learned to perform the Canadian ritual and just say fine, and you?

  3. To prove it is a ritual, many people don't reply with "fine", they reply with "how are you?" And it's not just Canadians because the older/more southern greetings of "Howdy" and "Howdydo" are just this. Bizarre.