Sometimes I overthink minor details so much that I interfere with my ability to have simple social interactions. It’s a recent problem for me, really. I am so frequently a prototypical introvert that I need social interaction to get going and stay going.
But then a funny thing happened. I’d been a regular at a coffee shop for so many years that I got tired of the thoughtless responses to “How are you?” and “What have you been up to?”. I mean, I get why we tend to answer with, “Fine” and “Oh, not much.” The greetings themselves are often perfunctory social expectations and so, therefore, are the responses.
My brain won’t leave well enough alone. So then I answer every “How are you?” with “I’ll tell you after I have this coffee” or some other groan-inducing quip that I’m sure baristas have never heard a hundred times before. And heaven help us both if you ask me what I’ve been up to. My brain seizes up twice in a row – first trying simply to remember anything recent (this started pretty much after parenthood), and second when I try to provide a meaningful answer that isn’t “Not much”. It doesn’t matter if you’re that self-same barista from the coffee shop that just saw me yesterday, or a close friend I haven’t seen in months. Invariably I mumble out some stilted response along the lines of “Not a whole lot but that’s not necessarily a bad thing when you’re just going day to day with kids and school and work and—hey, no news is bad news, right?—and we’ll see if I can get up to anything this weekend if the weather plays nice.”
I don’t even know if it’s vanity; I’m not consciously trying to think of clever answers or sound like I always have an interesting story to tell. Anyway.
So how am I? Pretty good, thanks. And what have I been up to? Eh, not much. You?