So I am. I have been paying attention to what I say, and to what others say, when we greet each other.
Mostly, it's a formality. We run into each other, don't want to seem rude and walk on by without saying something. On the other hand, neither of us is probably up for an organ recital. If one of us actually got into the details of how things were really going, the other would probably have stopped listening about four words into the dissertation.
"Fine,'' I answer glibly, even though I lack sleep and haven't showered. I fell two weeks ago and, even though the thermometer says nearly 90, I had to wear long pants to cover up my swollen and by now many-shades-of-purple-and-green knee. Add to that that I'm in desperate need of a perm or a cut or something. I have swollen tonsils, and in my rush to leave the house forgot to brush my teeth.
And that's what I said when I was fine.
Wonder what was going on with the person who said "Not bad?'' Or is one of us the proverbial "half-full'' person and the other the "half-empty'' one?
Of course, there are the in-between responses. "Not too bad.'' "O.K.'' "So-so.'' "I'm hangin' in there'' or "Still takin' nourishment''; or "I checked the obituaries this morning and my name wasn't in them—guess that's a good sign.''
Maybe we need to learn to ask the question differently to get just a tad bit below the surface.