She’s Fine. . .Or. . .She’s Dead
People don’t care. Oh, they say they do, and they’ll insist they do, and I’m sure you care, and of course I care, but most people don’t care.
Good to see you, Rodney. How are you?
Unless it’s a family relative asking, and even then, only a close relative or friend, they want you to say:
I’m fine, and you?
And of course, you expect them to also say, “I’m fine,” because you don’t care. It’s a filler phrase, like the inexperienced public speaker who stumbles through “Um” and “ah” while delivering his remarks. It’s not too bad as a throw away phrase.
I was talking to my teenage daughter,
And then she was like, ‘I don’t have his number’ and like, I’m sorry, but I know he like gave it to her like a week ago and I’m like . . .
Compared to some speech patterns, it’s . . .like, fine. But, I’ve always struggled with being asked a question as a greeting. I’m not trying to change the world. I use the phrase as well. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s odd. Occasionally, I’ll answer the questions differently in my head.
Well, I’m parenting an 18 month old grandchild. Work has become a world of stress sitting on my shoulders. My son is not sure he wants to follow the curfew rules, and I had to take his phone which led to like a huge argument. . .
I’m fine. How are you?
They don’t care. And I don’t blame them. We even use the question to ask about others. . that we again don’t really care about. (I mean others, of course you and I care.)
So, how’s your mom?
There are really only two answers. The expected answer is “She’s fine,” of course. But, what if she’s not? Again, we are talking about aquaintences. If your brother calls and asks about mom, he wants more than “She’s fine.” But, for most people, that’s the answer. The only exception is if mom’s not around any more. You might not keep your aquaintences updated on mom’s hospital stay, or her declining health related to age, or the difficult decision that the family made that she was to the point where doctors couldn’t do anything more for her, and the eventual sad but poignant goodbyes.
But, you cannot answer, “She’s fine.” For aquaintences, the two answers really are “She’s fine,” or “She died.”
Author’s note: Both my mother-in-law and my mother had birthdays this month. My wonderful mother is fine. My dear mother-in-law passed away just a week before her birthday. So, if you ask me “How’s your mom?” Realize there are really only two answers.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.
(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved