Wednesday, May 11, 2011

trivial civilities



I'd really love to know who the joker was that started the whole, "Hi, how are you?" greeting.

Is this just an American thing?  I think it must be.

Why can't we just bow like Japanese people?  I'm even up to the Frenchy three kisses on the cheek action.

Because here's the thing.  I don't really want to know how you are. And you don't really want to know how I am.  Let's just be honest.

We both just want the "I'm fine and you?" response.  We want to get on with our day.  Admit it.

If you ran into me in Trader Joe's and we were both sweaty and ugly in our gym clothes and you ever so politely and cheerfully greeted me with "Hi, how are you?" and I responded by telling you that I'm hanging on by a very thin thread, you would be uncomfortable. You would feel obligated to take one hand off your shopping cart and stand to face me. And you would be thinking, Oh no. How long is this going to take? I need to get home and change the wash and get the meat in the crockpot.

You don't really want to know that earlier that day I put both babies in their cribs and crawled into the back of my closet and cried until my tears ran dry.  That I feel fat and bloated and particularly unattractive lately.  That I second guess every business decision I make and obsess over losing blog readers.  That I have a blister on my foot that has been bothering me all day.

You don't really want to know. And you aren't alone. Nobody wants to know these things about most of the people we ask.  The checker in the grocery store. The teller at the bank. Meh. Unless they look outwardly ill, I don't really want to know.

So I've decided to change. I'm not going to ask how you are if I don't really want to know.  I am hoping this makes me a more sincere person.  I will smile and say hi.  And then I will bite my cheeks through the awkward silence.

If I really do want to know, and there are some people that I do really want to know how they are, I will look you in the eye and ask. I might put my hand on your shoulder.  I hope this will garner the truth and not a pert "fine", strained "ha ha" and side step away.  

And if I slip up and forget this new resolution, please tell me the truth anyway. Give me the long version. It will help me remember the next time. 

11 comments:

Rhonna Farrer said...

love you.
love you.
love you.

really!

xox

Laurie said...

you don't have to worry about losing me as a blog reader, you have the most honest and sincere blog out there, it's real and tells it like it is, don't get me wrong, I love to read a story about a happy family and all the success with the arts and crafts that people are having, but is it all true? All these blogs I read never talk about the rough times in a marriage or how VERY HARD it is to be a mother, I look forward to your daily dose of life as a woman...and I agree with you, the whole "how are you" does get old.

Jen said...

LOL! this made me laugh! Did you cry in your closet for reals! I'm sorry about that! I really am! My fav is when people ask you how you are while they are walking away! Aha yah! I adore this blog - just sayin!

Erin said...

I SO love the honesty of your blog! You say the things most of us are thinking, but are too afraid to say out loud! Thank you thank you for sharing your perfectly imperfect life!

Anna M said...

Whenever my dad calls me he asks "how are you doing?" and sometimes I forget and think he is sincere. As I start to tell him, he always adds, "No, I just want to hear that you are fine."

So, YES, I agree. Sometimes I say the non-committal, wanna-be-hip "SUP!?" with head nod.

Bring on the three kisses. Make it two because I am in a hurry.

Patty Ann said...

Oh yes, this is so true!! Often, I do want to know, especially if I know you well and we are friends. But sometimes, I am being polite. I try not to ask how people are if I really don't want to know.

cappuccino and colour said...

too true. the three kisses works for me! :-)

COEN + KELLY said...

I've lived in Europe just about a year now. Most every time I see 3 kisses it bookends a lengthy conversation. I'm too often not kissable to consider this a rational replacement for "how are you?" Especially post workout.

All things considered, I envy your fortune in having so many friends and acquaintances take interest in your life.

Katy said...

I have loved and been stalking you via your blog for at least a year. I have cried for you and laughed for you. I think you are an amazing woman who is facing the immense challenges of raising two tiny children and a handsome boy as well as run a creative business... in southern california. Keep coming back.

Anonymous said...

I didn't use to think much about the common greetings I see on US drama series. 5 years ago when I had a semester's exchange to US, I experienced it full on, every single American was asking the same thing every time we met, I was seriously befuddled at how to reply, like, seriously, are you really that interested???...Where I come from, a simple 'Hullo' does the trick. Love your blog, I check in every now and then, and have surreptitiously 'advertised' to my family and friends about your blog. Love has got to be spread =) You can never have more than enough of that =p Oh, and congrats on the new job!!!

Cisca said...

I've found around here (in South Africa) we often don't even say 'hallo' the 'how are you' comes in the place of that, but then if someone really is interested they will ask 'how are you' again .... as if the first was never asked - then you know they really want to know.
Love your blog! Please keep going, it is often one of your comments that keep me going. Thank you