I hate to admit it, but I am one of those people who tend to say the same thing over and over in certain situations. You'd think a writer could be more verbally creative "live," but lack of snappy comebacks happens to be one of the main reasons why I "write" as oppose to "speak." Not that I don't speak.
Some of my sayings are from a childhood spent all over America. In Texas, we say, if we do not care about something, that we "don't give a rat's ass." I have no idea why, but we Texans say it anyway. In the South, if someone has done something stupid, we'll say "bless her heart" with just a hint of disdain. I don't remember where I got "fixin" from, it was either Alabama or Texas where we were "fixin to go to church" and all that was implied.
Someone I knew, once upon a time, was from Tulare. I was friends with her daughter and when we went to Sherry's house after school, we'd ask her mom if we could do something just to hear her say, "Don't make me no nevermind." I still laughed just now writing it.
Medicine has its own entire language built around sayings. FTD - fixin to die,
DRT - dead right there, you get the idea. The funny thing is, "sayings" are not the only things we say without really thinking about it.
The perfunctory "how are you?" when we pass in the hall, the "fine" thrown around like a midget wrestler on Sunday, the "have a nice day!" flying off my tongue like I really mean it . . . wait . . . do I mean it?
I don't too often think about the things I say being sincere or truly inquisitive - I just say them out of habit - don't I?
At the risk of being called Sheldon by those who know my slightly retentive tendencies, I pose an experiment. For the next whole day after you read this (how could you do it before you read it), I challenge you to not just say the same thing in the same way for just one day. Try something that will take a moment to consider, let the people you see every day know that you have one or two whole minutes for them, not just the seconds we parcel out like cards on a table.
I'm not sure I can do it. And if I did do it, would it annoy the living hell out of those I tried it on?
I think it is a fine goal, to really be asking and want a true response when we ask "how are you?" but frankly, society is not set up to deal with that. Imagine how many hours we would add to our days if we had to think through the entire communication labyrinth without a few easy coins thrown in here and there?
And yet, it is the uncommon statement or question or greeting that means the most in this harried world. I sat down to write this tonight because Karen asked me to, just after "hey, how's it going? . . . work discussion redacted . . . when are you going to write on your blog?" A simple thing perhaps, but thank you Karen for asking and thank you for saying something that touched me.