The Old Coot is greeting challenged

How are you? How are you doing? How have you been? What’s new? What’s up? This is how we greet each other. Sometimes we keep it simple and say, “Hi!” or “Hello there.” But for the most part, we stick with the commonly used “Howdy-Dos.” The only new one to come along, as far as I know, is, “SUP,” but young people mostly use it.

Our responses to standard greetings are worn out too: “Good” – “Not bad” – “Same-O, Same-O” – “Same stuff, different day” – “Living the dream” and the like. Or, we get creative and upbeat every once in a while, and say, “Great!” – “Excellent!” – “Fantastic!” But, the receivers of these upbeat responses don’t buy it. Under their breath they are saying, “Bull!” or “Get real; your life’s a mess.”

It gets old, this greeting and response routine. It needs new life – maybe some reality too. 

Don’t ask me though; I don’t know what to say in greeting or in response. Lately, I’ve been swapping greetings between, “Hey John, how are you doing?” (Using the person’s name to prove I’m not senile and hoping to heck I get it right.) And “SUP?” (With a smile, that is meant to mock the word.) My responses are lame too; I vacillate between – “Good.” (Spoken with an upbeat tone) and “Great!” hoping firstly, it might be true, and secondly, it will be believed. Social greeting habits do change and evolve over time. When was the last time you heard, “Look what the cat dragged in!” – “What’s the good word?” – “Long time no see!” – “Hey man!” 

This whole thing, our social greeting tradition, was a lot easier a century or so ago when society was more formal. Men tipped (doffed) their hats or simply said, “Greetings.” I heard a new one from Ray Moran, former owner of “What’s your Beef” in Binghamton, N.Y. I said, “Hi Ray, how are you doing?” He replied, “Everything is cooperating today.” I knew exactly what he meant, any old guy would. He was saying a lot, just using four words – “My back doesn’t ache too bad today – Both of my knees are bending without too much cracking – My left shoulder is moveable – My stiff neck feels good enough for me to look to my left when I turn right on red (without having to stop).” I’m going to start using Ray’s response, even though it will be as big a lie as when I say, “Fantastic!”

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