Friday, July 17, 2009

All Things Considered

My wife has an uncle that can get away with this: Anytime anyone asks him how he's doing he says "Fantastic!" There is a part of me that admires this kind of positive thought. He is the same fellow who used to walk around Lake Merritt most every morning, greeting every person whom he was able to make eye contact. This is a good soul. It should come as no surprise that he has, on occasion, dressed up as Santa Claus. But it's the "fantastic" part that sticks with me.
It reminds me of George Carlin's old bit about people telling him to "have a nice day." His reply was, essentially, "What if I don't want to?" That's a lot of pressure, isn't it? My back is sore and I got a parking ticket and the A's lost again and my dog threw up on the rug again and I'm supposed to have a nice day? How am I doing? "Fantastic!"
I have pressed him on this matter a few times, cynical twit that I am. He has taken my queries to heart, and replied thus: "I'm walking around and breathing. I have my wife, my health, and another day to get it right tomorrow." Or some other cheery words to that effect. It's enough to put a smile on my crabby face. Almost.
Truth is, most days when someone asks me how I am, I tend to parrot a response I once heard on a Bruce Springsteen video: "It's going okay. I'm alright." It' hits just the right tone of non-committal well-being that doesn't offer too much information but satisfies the minorly curious. Every so often, I feel tempted to ask if it is purely a rhetorical question, or if they are truly concerned with my emotional and physical health. If that's the case, don't ask me how I'm doing as we pass in a hallway, or across a crowded room. I haven't found the one-word response that sums up all the doubt, fear, anger and joy that I carry around in my head on any given day. The best I could hope for is a link to the Springsteen lyrics that he seems to have been cribbing when he made that video with John Sayles way back when. It's a sentiment that won't quite make it on a T shirt or cocktail napkin, but if somebody wants to know how I'm doing, I would tell them: "Well I'm a little down under, but I'm feeling O.K.
Got a little lost along the way
I'm just around the corner to the light of day"


Anonymous said...

I'd be a lot more fantastic if I could just get a frickin' P-Zone delivered.


Anonymous said...

I have a friend who always answers "Not dead yet," which sounds really good in his Australian accent.

RJB said...

The cynical twit is making me feel a great deal better today.