Look, girlfriend of colleague’s boyfriend’s colleague or whoever you are, when I ask you “how are you?” I do not literally mean that I want to know the history of your infections and viruses over the holidays.

Seriously. Didn’t you get the memo? Didn’t you ever do English lessons in middle-school? This is what the very first conversation goes like, after they swap names, remember:

Ali. How are you?

Reza. I’m fine, thank you. How are you?

Ah yes. I forgot, English is your mother tongue, so you probably never did do that lesson. Still. Surely you should know by now, that when people, especially people whom you don’t know that well and perhaps meet every four months or so, ask you “How are you?”, they really are not interested in your health issues, they do not want to hear “actually, I’ve been feeling pretty crappy since I got that virus over blah blah blah.” They just want to get the social ball rolling, as it were.

The old-fashioned English version is better, I think, to avoid these unwanted health info:

“How do you do?”

The French version is even better at showing how totally uninterested you are:

“It goes?” (ca va?”) 




  1. FoXy

    It reminded of a story u once told me about Frencesco n that old happy nice cook of ur department. Who told all about his viruses n headache n aging to Frencesco. And then he died. Curse of Franchesko, shall we say?

  2. FoXy

    BTW i’m one of those guilty, self-centered creatures who tell all about my last viruses n headaches n feelings once someone -could be anyone- asks me how i’m doing.

    Just noticed this about myself.

  3. thenewcomer

    It wasn’t the cook, it was the receptionist.
    And he didn’t die.
    talk about WRONG memories!!!

    Anyway, i can see that it’s one of those things which is quite annoying when it happens to you, but it’s funny when other people narrate it.

  4. FoXy

    He didn die??! Whacha mean? I clearly remember he died. The old, kind, nice man who could cook well?!

  5. confession: I go on about details too. The problem is if I dont say “something”, the conversation would “freeze” and it feels awkward (for me). And the first solution that comes to mind is honestly and completely answering the “how are you?”

  6. thenewcomer

    @FoXy You have got EVRYTHING WRONG. Basically rewritten history.

    @Khers- This is our sad inderitance, we somehow feel “responsible” for the social situation, as if we are the hired clowns or something, and it is our responsibility to talk and socialize. It took me ten years of deadly socializing with the Old Woman to realise that really, it is not our job to give everyone a good time and laugh and talk. It’s time we took a break.

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