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When Someone Asks. . .


Hopefully, these two gentlemen are not talking at great length about their ongoing aches, pains, and respective tales of woe.

Among the many ideas imparted to yours truly by my late maternal grandmother and late mother are two related points.  

First, whenever someone asks how you are, simply reply, "Very well, thank you."  You could, if you feel up to it, also ask "And you?"  My grandmother always instructed, however, that other people do not really want to know how you are.  They are simply being courteous in most cases, so give them a courteous (and concise) reply.  

My own addition to this piece of advice?  Save the detailed, angst ridden answers for your analyst or medical doctor.  Behind closed doors.  It's far better to leave certain things to the imagination.

Second, my late mother always advised to spare everyone the excruciating details of your personal aches and pains in whatever form those might take.  As she used to say, the world is a highly interesting place.  Lengthy discussion of one's great aunt's neighbor's mother's cousin with an ingrown toenail, who lives down the street and around the corner, is excruciatingly dull as well as crass.  It's far better, ol' Mom advised, simply not to join in such topics of conversation and do one's utmost to change the subject.  And, she added, you certainly do not share your own aches, pains, or latest tale of woe.

I suppose, in our current era of general over familiarity, obsession with sharing in the name of personal authenticity (Spare me!), and tendency to blurt out even the most personal details via social media that this point is lost on a lot of people.  But there we are.

 -- Heinz-Ulrich


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