In the street, at Uni, work, supermarket…
Random acquaintance or a colleague, definitely not a friend: Hey, what’s up, how’s going? Tell me what’s new? How are things?
Those are the basics, choose additional follow-up by specific preferences: How’s your boyfriend, when are you getting married? * the person laughs hysterically because of their impeccable sense of spontaneous humour* What about your sister/brother? And your parents, what did you say they do for a living? (I never mentioned that.)
At that very moment I am grabbing a gun from a special emergency compartment in my bag, clutching the weapon with my sweaty, but determined hand and BAM!, the person hits the ground. I’ve just killed them. It all went smoothly because I have been rehearsing this in my mind for about 15 years. Scenarios may vary in details, sometimes it’s a hand grenade, or I simply set myself on fire to avoid the stupid conversation, the common goal is always the same: I want to get away, please gods save me from this annoying hell of words exchange.
Of course, I understand those are just formal expressions, ice breakers, conversation starters (or enders in my case). We use them because we are stuck up, unimaginative, overly attentive and are used to forming superficial relations with each other. I’ve been through many awkward silences and weather discussions in order to keep a dead conversation going, but I am proud to say that I have never directed that kind of interest aggressively into my ‘opponent’s’ face. The only acceptable version is the informal greeting that goes like this:
Random person: Hello, how are you?
Me: Hey, oh greeeat! (dying inside but smiling)
Random person: Pretty good.
And that is it, the end, fin, it will not be continued.
A while ago I never remembered to add the additional ‘and you?’ into my answer, I would simply answer about how I’m feeling, I didn’t know that is an unwritten rule until I heard my younger sister using it many years ago in a grocery store, so I added it into my conversational repertoire.
Many years later, I turned out to be a pretty good talker, I can turn awkward silences into witty, but yet not too funny jokes, just enough to keep a drained conversation breathing.The best thing in life is that close friends, family or lovers don’t use the What’s up, how’s life? type of questions that often, when they do, it has a funny or sarcastic undertone. On the other hand, the classic How are you? gets a new, honest dimension as soon as you start talking to someone you like and feel totally comfortable with.
I wish I were braver in cases like, for example, when a nosy neighbour parks her ass right next to mine in public transport and starts questioning me about every living member of my family. At the same time, she will expect a great amount of interest from my part towards her affairs and family, so as soon she realizes I am not going to ask her anything remotely connected to her exciting daily life events, she’ll start talking about it nonetheless.
Look, I really don’t care!
That simple 5 word sentence could get me out of any conversation and label me forever as a quirky lunatic at best, or a hearthless bitch in a worse case scenario, but oh what a small price that would be in exchange for a lifetime of peace and cozyness.